National Hansen's Disease Museum, Carville

#51 of 154 in Museums in Louisiana
The National Hansen's Disease Museum is a historical museum in Carville, Louisiana at the site of a former sugar plantation and was once home of the National Leprosarium.HistoryLocated on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River in Carville, Louisiana, the National Leprosarium was one of two leprosy hospitals in the United States. An abandoned sugar plantation became the Louisiana Leper Home in 1894. Eventually the facility would develop into a hospital that promoted understanding, identification, and treatment of leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease. But in the early days, there was no effective medical treatment, and patients entered the gates under mandatory quarantine and many never left the hospital again.The hospital began work with a patient load of five men and two women in the 1890s, and would grow into a facility housing hundreds of employees and patients, including married couples and children. Louisiana Leper Home was known as "a place of refuge, not reproach; a place of treatment and research, not detention". It offered hope and a comfortable refuge from society.In 1921, the U.S. Public Health Service took control and the facility became U.S. Marine Hospital Number 66, the National Leprosarium of the United States. Patient Stanley Stein, known as "Carville's Crusader", began a two-page newsletter in 1931. It grew into The STAR, a world-renowned newspaper that is still in publication.In 1986, the facility became the Gillis W. Long Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) Center, named after the distinguished United States Congressman Gillis W. Long. He was an advocate for people living and working with Hansen's disease. All Public Health Service hospitals were closed during the 1980s, with the exception of Carville. Long was successful in lobbying Congress to keep Carville open for the patients who wanted to remain on site, even though mandatory quarantine ceased to be law some years before. The name change was directly linked to Congressman Long's influence in keeping the hospital open. Make National Hansen's Disease Museum a centerpiece of your Carville vacation itinerary, and find what else is worth visiting using our Carville trip planner.
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National Hansen's Disease Museum Reviews
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  • This unassuming, not advertised museum is on the campus that housed America's lepers from the late 1800s until the condition was largely treatable. There were people living here until the late 1990s.....  more »
  • Hansen's disease is no longer the concern it once was. Patients were feared and ostracized. Their stories make for a very interesting museum and tour.  more »
  • I love a unique museum that is off the beaten path. This is out in the middle of no where, south of Gonzales, LA, on a Louisiana Army National Guard base and until recently housed those with leprosy. This museum shows how these people lived. It is a sad disease that disfigures the affected population, and there is a wealth of information at this museum. It shows how they lived, the kind of rooms they lived in, stories of individuals affected and detailed the minutia of their lives. Just jam packed with information. Come and take a look around. A few bucks and hours of things to look at. The docents are very proud of what they have.
  • Well done museum with a great deal of information and many displays. I'm in the medical field (nurse practitioner) and I found this museum truly amazing. The building and grounds are really nice as well. Yes, the museum's theme is a bit unusual, but it's well worth making the trek to visit for anyone interested in a fascinating part of USA history.

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Duration:1​h 30​min