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The likelihood of contracting a disease can sometimes be proportional to class: the poor are more vulnerable than the not-so-poor. A significant exception to that rule of thumb has been tuberculosis, whose contraction in the 19th and early 20th centuries was pretty cavalier with regard to class lines and social distinctions. I was reading last night about the Open Air School movement of the early 20th century in the United States and its connection the McCormick family of International Harvester fame. The loss of a twelve-year-old child in that privileged family resulted in the establishment of the Elizabeth McCormick Memorial Fund and a wide variety of initiatives to minimize the threat of TB for us all. [On election eve 2014, I also offer this as testimony to the noblesse oblige that has become an endangered species in these latter days.]

Sanitaria—places set aside specifically for the treatment of tuberculosis—sprang up all across the U.S. and Canada, especially in locations more salubrious to the health of patients: higher elevations, woodland and mountainous settings, anywhere away from the damaging atmosphere of industrialization. Colorado Springs got a leg up in just that way. And needless to say, it created a whole new vocabulary of architectural forms, details and materials. Just today I ran across this image of the Woodland Sanitarium in California that is especially picturesque and worth your attention.


And if you’d like to see what tuberculesque architecture looks like in North Dakota, take a gander at San Haven:


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