Leon County Health Unit – Tallahassee FL

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The Leon County Health Unit was completed in 1940 as a $40,000 project jointly funded by Leon County, the City of Tallahassee, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It was the first permanent home for the Leon County Health Unit, which was the oldest in the state and the first specially designed health unit built as a county WPA project in the state of Florida.

The facility was a direct result of the Florida Health Unit Law of 1931, which authorized counties in Florida “to cooperate with the State Board of Health in the establishment and maintenance of full-time local health units for the control and eradication of preventable diseases, and to inculcate modern scientific methods of hygiene, sanitation and the prevention of communicable diseases.” Florida had the fewest health units among 14 southern states.

When it was completed, the Leon County Health Unit was located adjacent to one of Tallahassee’s most important African American enclaves known as “Smokey Hollow.” For many in the community, the health unit represented an unprecedented advancement in medical care. The health unit was staffed by interracial nurses, but was segregated temporally. African Americans were treated on certain days, while whites were treated on other. The facility provided prenatal treatment for pregnant women, childhood vaccinations for smallpox, diphtheria and typhoid, dental examinations, and treatment for common ailments such as hookworm. The building’s modern exterior was meant to reflect efficient technical and scientific medical work, and was described The Daily Democrat in July 1940 as “a great monument of progress of Floridians over disease, ill health, poor sanitation, and poverty.”

Source notes

See historical report:

Jonathan Lammers, Brief History of the Firestone & Bloxham Annex Buildings (Former Leon County Jail, Leon County Health Unit and W.P.A. District, Headquarters), April, 2017, (https://cascadesproject.com/wp-content/uploads/Firestone-and-Bloxham-Annex-Buildings-Historical-Report.pdf), accessed October 26, 2017.

Project originally submitted by Jonathan Lammers on October 26, 2017.

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Location Info

325 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Coordinates: 30.435291, -84.278450

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