Saturday, August 2, 2014

Raymond Roosevelt Martin and the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Barre, Vermont

Raymond Roosevelt Martin was born in Williamstown, Vermont on 16 September 1904, the son of George F. Martin and Margaret "Maggie" McKillop. He spent his childhood and early adult years residing on his family's farm on Northfield Road in Williamstown with his parents and at least six siblings (Lizzie May, Caroline Susan, Harrison Bancroft, John L, George Jr., and Clarence Dix (another sister, Rosetta died during infancy)). He lived and worked on the farm until 1933 or 1934. In 1934, he was living at 50 Elm Street in Barre and was working as a mechanic. He married Hannah Georgia Berno on 10 September 1934 in Barre. From 1936-1941, he is living at 133 Church Street and works as a mechanic for John Alexander, and then later in 1941 he is living on Main Street, Barre, and is the proprietor of his own business, Ray's Service Station. Raymond's aspirations of owning his own business was short-lived as he was working as a machinist for the Cone Automatic Company in Windsor, Connecticut in 1942 and then for the Sullivan Machinery Company in Claremont, New Hampshire in 1943. He and Hannah returned to Barre, Vermont in July 1943 when Raymond was admitted to the Washington County Sanatorium, a residential home for tuberculosis patients.

Washington County Sanatorium, 1921 - Barre, Vermont
The Washington County Sanatorium was opened in 1921 on Beckley Hill Road in Barre. "The purpose of the [Washington County] sanitarium (sic) was the detection and treatment of tuberculosis, a pulmonary disease which during those years was a constant and common threat to stonecutters and their families" (Elizabeth Ramon Bacon, Santander to Barre: Life in a Spanish Family in Vermont). It is true that a large number of Barre's stonecutters (as well as many family & community members) contracted tuberculosis, and people blamed both unsanitary and strenuous work conditions in the sheds, and unsanitary conditions of the worker's homes. Many tuberculosis patients where admitted to the sanatorium. Sadly most including Raymond Martin, didn't make it out alive. He died there on 30 Mar 1944 after a 246 day stay. He is buried in Williamstown Cemetery next to his wife, Hannah, who died on 13 Feb 1989. She never remarried, and the two never had any children.

In 1968, the Sanatorium was converted into the Carmette Monastery, which it remained for 29 years until being sold to Washington County Mental Health. "This fall, the Barre community sold its 60-year-old brick building, a former sanitarium for quarry workers suffering from silicosis, to Washington County Mental Health" (The Galveston Daily News, 6 Dec 1997). Today it is home to Washington County Mental Health's Children, Youth and Family Services. 

The former Washington County Sanatorium as it stands in 2014 - Barre, Vermont

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