Like any small town, Carville offered various services to its inhabitants. A one room school house educated the people quarantined at the site. Sacred Heart Chapel hosted Catholic services facilitated by the Daughters of Charity. Eventually it was deemed necessary to erect a jail for the community as well. To your right, the single story building roughly marks the location of the old Carville Jail, built in 1926, when one patient murdered another patient and had to await trial here. A more common offense was running away from the hospital, or "absconding against medical advice." If a runaway patient returned, they were sentenced to 30 days in jail. A repeat runaway was required to post a bond to deter another escape attempt.

Carville "law enforcement" was made up of a guard at the front gate and a guard who walked the corridors at a regular interval, night and day. Patients were required to be inside of their dormitory by 9pm. As guards walked the grounds, they clocked in at a dozen stops. The old jail was torn down in 1957. This was the same year that leprosy was taken off the list of diseases that required quarantine by Louisiana law.

Directly in front of you is the area known as Cottage Grove or "White City," where some married patients built their own cottages or purchased a cabin from a discharged patient. "White City" refers to the white, government-issued paint used on the cottages.

Marriages between the patients were not allowed on-site until the 1950s. Patients in love would often escape through the "hole in the fence" and return married. Besides offering privacy, having their own cottage meant patients could cook their own meals and take part in the active social community that developed between neighbors. Despite a couple's wedded status, their children could not live on-site. Children are not born with Hansen's Disease. Mothers delivered their babies at the PHS hospital in New Orleans. Sometimes a family or friend would care for the child. Another option was adoption.

Please drive forward about 30 feet and make a left onto the gravel road. Stop 8 - Carville Cemetery.



Carville Driving Tour, Stop #7
Audio narration for Stop #7 (Carville Jail and Cottage Grove) on the Carville: The National Leprosarium tour
View File Record


Carville Jail and Cottage Grove, National Hansen's Disease Museum, 5445 Point Clair Rd, Carville, LA