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Encyclopedia of Arkansas Minute: The State Tuberculosis Sanatorium

The state legislature authorized creation of a state sanatorium in 1909, selecting a site about three miles south of Booneville to house white Arkansans with tuberculosis.

Various buildings were constructed to serve the patients over the next twenty years, and in 1938 the Nichols-Nyberg Act allowed creation of a five-story, five-hundred twenty-eight foot long hospital building with doctors’ offices, cafeteria and kitchen, and a morgue. Named the Nyberg Building, it could hold five hundred eleven patients and was soon known worldwide for its treatment of tuberculosis patients.

Before the Arkansas State Tuberculosis Sanatorium was created the disease’s mortality rate was eighty percent; the sanatorium helped cut that to ten. The sprawling complex was self-sustaining, with three hundred employees, and with patients it sometimes exceeded Booneville’s population. The last seven patients were discharged in 1973 and it now houses the Booneville Human Development Center.

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