History of the Mennonite Sanitarium - La Junta

Mennonite Sanitarium
from The La Junta Tribune Industrial Edition, March 15, 1915

It is a fact, well known and recognized by the medical fraternity that the climate in this section of the state is the most beneficial to those suffering from tuberculosis or asthmatic affections of any climate found in the United States.  The United States government has a hospital for the treatment of those suffering with the dreaded white plague within twenty miles of La Junta and it is rumored the government expects to make arrangements within the near future to erect a sanitarium there for the treatment of all consumptives under its care, instead of only those from the navy department, as heretofore.

Plenty of pure air, sunshine and mild temperatures are the climactic essentials in the treatment of the tubercular patients and there are to be found in abundance in this part of the Arkansas valley.

About the year 1905, the question of establishing a sanitarium for the treatment of tuberculosis was brought before the conferences of the Mennonite church, and after some discussion the territory tributary to La Junta was chosen as the place to locate the proposed institution.  Contributions were solicited and met with such a hearty response that the work was underway within a comparatively short time.  By the 25th of October, the building was ready for the dedicatory services, and the reception of patients.

The Sanitarium is owned and controlled by the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, although the immediate oversight is left to the local board of directors, composed of seven members, all living within easy reach of the institution.

The Sanitarium is located 4 ˝ miles west of La Junta and is situated on a hill that commands an excellent view of the country for many miles.  The main building is built of concrete and brick veneer, having a basement and 2 ˝ stories.  The main part is 32 by 60ft. in dimensions, and contains a dining room and kitchen in the basement.  The first floor has a fine large reception room, also used for services and other meetings, toilets, cloak room, pharmacy, a well equipped laboratory and superintendent’s office.  The second floor has an operating room and five private rooms.  There are also two wings, each 24 by 50ft., with room for 44 beds.  The entire equipment for the welfare of sufferers is equal to that found in any similar institution.

The water supply is derived from an artesian well on the grounds and the building is supplied with both hot and cold water.  The Sanitarium farm supplies vegetables, milk, butter, eggs and meat.  The value of the farm, buildings and equipment is estimated at $61,000.00 of the present time. 

While the sanitarium is the church institution, no discrimination is made between church members and those making no profession.  The large amount of charity work has been done since the institution was opened, and a number of such cases have been treated.  For this reason the sanitarium is not entirely self supporting and all contributions are gladly accepted.

Hundreds of cases of lung trouble have been treated during the past few years, and a large percentage of cures have been obtained, although a number of cases are hopeless before they come to Colorado, and of course nothing can be done in such cases, except, perhaps, alleviate the suffering to some extent.  Other cases than tuberculosis are taken when the institution has room.  At this time nearly all the beds are taken.  J.M. Hershey is the superintendent of the cemetery and has been for several years.

Sanitarium Farm

The farm connected with the Mennonite Sanitarium originally consisted of 160 acres.  Recently, however, the board of directors saw fit to purchase the 320 acres lying west of the original farm.  Altogether they now have 400 acres of land under irrigation.  Twenty acres were in beets last year and made from fourteen to nineteen tons per acre.  Fifty acres of oats made 50 bushels per acre.  One hundred and forty acres are in alfalfa.  There’s also a cherry orchard of seven acres that will soon begin to bear.

They have thirty head of cattle and are milking twelve.  There are also fourteen head of horses and colts.  One of the present needs of the farm is a good barn and it is hoped that money enough will soon be on hand to enable one to be erected.

The farm superintendent at this time is J.J. Smith of Sterling Illinois. 

The sanitarium was in operation from 1905 - 1950.