Lake View Sanitorium

Lake View Sanitorium
Now home to offices for the Dane County Department of Human Services

It was here, at Lake View Sanitorium, where my father came to recover from tuberculosis. This is an example of how going about taking pictures can lead you down some unexpected trails. I knew my dad had TB and had spent time in the sanitorium. And I was aware of the building as it is obvious to all perched on top of a big hill. But I never visited and didn’t think much about it until one day I went to get pictures of people sledding.
There I was, up close to the building thinking, “my dad once stayed here. Right here, right where I now stand.” Questions tumbled around in my head. Which room was he in? How long was he here? When, exactly, was he here? What was it like for him? My dad had TB long before I was born. My mom told me once he’d been sick and had to go to a sanitorium, that was all the info I had to go on. So I consulted my older sisters. Neither of them had any specific memories. Both were very young at the time. One recalled his return to the farm and the kids had to be quiet so he could rest in the afternoons. The other had some vague memory of going up to the building for a visit but couldn’t tell me anything specific.
No doubt there are county medical records somewhere I can look up. Haven’t got that far yet. Even with that, what’s missing is the story. What was it like for him? Did he get TB because he was a farmer and the close association with cows? What’s the bigger context? Building sanitoriums was a public response to a health crisis. Sanitoriums sprang up in many places. That’s a very different response to a public health crisis than the response we’re currently experiencing.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.