“Open-air” classroom at Moore Street School, 1113 W. Moore Street, Richmond, Va.
In the early-20th century, Europe and the U.S. saw the rise of “open air” schools intended to create healthy environments to combat tuberculosis using the principles of sanatoria. Sometimes purpose-built, and sometimes converted spaces, open air schools provided fresh air and extra nutrition for at-risk youth.
In the May 1917 issue of The Modern City, John H. Ferguson wrote about Richmond’s 16 open air schools: “Each school has a capacity of 20 children; and each one is always crowded, with a long waiting list. The children are selected from the entire public school system of the city by the school physician…Few of these children have tuberculosis even in its non-communicative forms, but they are all below par, physically, just in the right receptive condition to be fertile soil for the development of the disease.”
,” Social Welfare History Image Portal, accessed October 15, 2018, https://images.socialwelfare.library.vcu.edu/items/show/310.