Way Back When: Red Mesa Hospital

Photo courtesy of the Denver Public Library

This photo is dated between 1920 and 1930. It shows the Red Mesa Hospital on South Redlands Road.

Before this substantial brick building was built, the first Red Mesa Hospital sat just north of this one, below the bluff near the Redlands Power Canal. The original was built in 1902 under the direction of Dr. Arthur Taylor, who was also the county coroner. The hospital was a joint effort between the county and city and encompassed 160 acres, most being on top of the bluff. It was also called the County Pest House.

Around the time the new Red Mesa Hospital was built, Dr. E.H. Munro was the city’s health officer. Diphtheria, typhoid fever and smallpox plagued the local citizens. Dr. Munro conducted the first free, citywide vaccination of school children in 1922.

The porch on the south side of the building made it a welcome refuge for tuberculosis patients as well.

Along with Doc Munro’s immunization efforts, alleys were sprayed for fly infestations, ordinances were passed to ban open doors on outhouses, food-handling standards were enforced and upgrades were made to the city sewer system.

In the mid-1920s it was known simultaneously as the Pest House/Poor Farm.

By the Great Depression, with more destitute people than sick people, it became the County Poor Farm and was no longer known as Red Mesa Hospital. Service clubs, the Community Chest and women’s organizations made sure the residents were cared for.

By 1939, the Poor Farm turned into the College Farm. Mesa College students and “out-of-school” boys were given vocational training on the farm. The two-story brick building became the boys’ 50-bed dormitory, and the resident instructor lived in the house.

By the beginning of the 1950s, the Colorado State University Research Center was using the site along with Mesa College Adult Services and, by 1972, all educational endeavors were abandoned and the building became a Salvation Army warehouse.

In 1975, the land was purchased from Mesa County by a party of three clever investors, and the land was leveled and platted. It was soon to be Heatheridge Estates.


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