What’s in a Name: Hygiene, Colorado

Hygiene, Colorado is a small, unincorporated town about one mile west of McIntosh Lake in northwest Longmont. The town gets its name from the sanitarium located here in the late 1800s helping patients overcome tuberculosis (TB).

Reverend Jacob S. Flory moved to Hygiene (then known as Pella) in the late 1870s with his wife and eight children to work with the Church of the Brethren, a Christian denomination known as ‘German Baptists.’ In 1881, he opened the Hygienic House, a sanitarium that would help tuberculosis sufferers overcome the illness. The sanitarium was an impressive, three-story home with 35 rooms and a glassed-in sundeck.

In the late 19th century, many people suffering from tuberculosis came west to Colorado for their health. Clean, mountain air, low humidity, high elevation, and year-round sunshine often provided relief from the symptoms of TB or ‘consumption’, as it was once known. Sanitariums sprouted up throughout the state from Denver to Colorado Springs to Hygiene. By 1900, about 1/3 of Colorado’s population was residents that were here seeking treatment for TB.

Hygiene House was offering relief from tuberculosis, among other things. Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Boulder County Clerk for Crystal Fountains, Hygienic Home, and the White Sulphur Springs Company which might explain some of the other miraculous cures the Hygiene House promised. Mineral water from nearby Rabbit Mountain and “rare” plants were offered to patients. Some skeptics say the water came from a spring behind the sanitarium, and the plants were common herbs from the area. The cure for TB was a bit controversial as well. It was thought that if you sat outside for 10 hours each day, no matter the weather, you would be cured. So there are even reports of patients sitting outside in a blizzard with hot bricks under their blankets keeping them warm.

Hygiene Church of the Brethren built in 1880. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1984) and designated a Boulder County Landmark (2004).
Hygiene Church of the Brethren built in 1880. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1984) and designated a Boulder County Landmark (2004).

Hygiene House was open for eight years. Reverend Flory built the Brethren Church from a flock of three to over 100 congregants during this time. After 11 years in Hygiene, he moved to southern California continuing his work with the church. Hygiene House later became a hotel, and the building was torn down in 1926.

Today, the picturesque town of Hygiene, Colorado may still hold some healing powers. Popular with bicyclists and locals, this charming town offers Longmont visitors an off-the-beaten-path experience. Grab breakfast or lunch at Crane Hollow Café, then stop next door at Rabbit Brush Gallery, an art gallery and gift shop that features local and regional artists’ work. Before leaving town, check out Mary’s Market & Deli, the town’s general store, antiques dealer, and gluten-free bakery. All three are open daily, so whether you are looking for a leisurely drive or you’re thinking about taking a long, area bike ride, consider Hygiene. It’ll take your breath away.

Sunset Pond at Pella Crossing in Hygiene
Sunset Pond at Pella Crossing in Hygiene

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