By Kristin Finney
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Dr. David Howell Yates is a name that not many recent generation Madisonians would recognize. However, many of you pass his place of business on a regular basis. His office is located on the corner of Base and Horry Streets, it almost looks out of place among the plantation like homes found on those streets. The reason that many residents do not recognize his name is because his business began in 1914.
When the building was originally built it was a sanitarium. A sanitarium is a location that has been set aside to meet the needs of people facing illnesses. The sanitariums would normally allow patients to receive a lot of fresh air and rest; they would also be given a special diet of nutritious foods. This was believed to help in the healing process of people facing chronic illnesses.
Dr. Yates’ sanitarium was especially successful in treating Pellagra. Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease that is normally caused by a lack of niacin. Pellagra is normally described as causing “the four D’s” which are diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and death.
Dr. Yates was also the first person in Madison to own a car. He had drums of gasoline sent to him by train. He was also the first person in Madison to receive a traffic citation; he did not turn on his rear lights at night and was given a $1.00 citation. Yates also was the first president of the Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Kiwanis Club. David Howell Yates also had the first static X-Ray machine in the state of Florida.
The building currently found on Base and Horry Streets is not the original Yates Sanitarium. The original sanitarium contained 20 rooms, baths, a kitchen, a dining room, a reading room and a reception lobby. The building burnt down in 1922. This gave Dr. Yates the opportunity to improve his facilities.
An ad can be found in the American Journal of Electrotherapeutics and Radiology, Volume 34, Issue 4. The ad reads “The Sanitarium is located in a small Florida town, on the National Highway. Good R.R. facilities. Thoroughly equipped for the treatment of Pellagra, Chronic Deafness, Nervous Troubles, Neuritis, including Rheumatism, Gout, Asthma and mild mental cases. Treatment of Cancer. Sanitarium is equipped with steam heat, is well ventilated and screened. Eight rooms with bath lavatories and hot and cold water in every room. Rates $20.00 per week and upwards.”
Following the fire the new building was built. This building is two stories tall. The walls are built of 12” stucco and the foundation is poured concrete.
Following Dr. Yates’ death the building became the Madison County Hospital. Today, it is a private residence. The current owners affectionately refer to the building as “The Money Pit.”