Back in May, we noted National Nurses Week with a piece on Ida Jane Anderson, New York State’s first registered nurse. John Zicari, a reader from York, Maine, wrote to tell me that he’d been doing some genealogical research on his family from Rochester, and shared a family photo of his great aunt, Katherine Fitzgerald Osborn. She was a nurse at what John had been told was Rochester’s Park Avenue Hospital. There’s no date on the photo but, John says, “She died in 1925 so it is pretty early picture of the facility.”
I love genealogy and especially old photos. But I had to confess: I’d never heard a hospital on Park Ave. Cafes? Yes. Art galleries? Yes. A hospital? No.
But as my grandfather used to say, you learn something new every day…
Sure enough, in 1894 a hospital was opened on the corner of Park Avenue and Brunswick Street in the city of Rochester. According to the Rochester General Hospital website, the project was commissioned by a highly respected and devoted surgeon and physician from the Rochester City Hospital named Dr. John F.W. Whitbeck.
According to his bio on the RGH website, Dr. Whitbeck was “deeply interested in community health, particularly the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis.” The three story brick building he ran was located on Park Avenue. It had 25 beds and was referred to as Dr. Whitbeck’s Hospital.
Dr. Whitbeck’s Hospital stayed open for 10 years before closing due to financial insolvency. In 1904, the building was leased to J. Howard Bradstreet, who operated a private boarding school for boys. When the school relocated in 1907, Dr. Whitbeck sold the building to Dr. Charles R. Barber, who remodeled it. In 1908, he opened a 40 bed facility and called it the Park Avenue Hospital.
That same year, Park Avenue Training School for Nurses received its charter from New York State. It graduated its first class of nurses three years later. The nursing school operated until 1948, and closed after graduating 41 classes, each ranging from two to twenty nurses.
The Park Avenue Hospital continued to expand. Monroe County’s first intensive care unit, with six beds, was established there in 1960.
As families moved to the suburbs of Rochester, though, a need arose for a hospital to serve the county’s growing west side population. The Northwest Hospital Committee was formed in 1961 and, after extensive research, the Park Avenue Hospital board of directors voted in 1967 to relocate to a new 154 acre location on Long Pond Road in Greece.
In June of 1971, the Rochester Regional Hospital Council and the Health Council of Monroe County authorized the closing of Park Avenue Hospital. It was restructured into the new Park Ridge Hospital . (I’ve always wondered where the “Park” in the name of that hospital came from.) The facility is now part of Unity Health System.
The Park Avenue Hospital stopped admitting patients on August 27, 1975. But what happened to the building on Park Avenue?
You can learn more about the history of Rochester’s early hospitals on the Rochester General website .
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Tags: Brunswick Street, Dr. John F.W. Whitbeck, Dr. Williams, Health Council of Monroe County, Joanne Brokaw, John Zicari, Katherine Fitzgerald Osborn, Park Avenue, Park Avenue Hospital, Park Avenue Training School for Nurses, Park Ridge Hospital, Rochester, Rochester NY, Rochester Regional Hospital Council, Unity Hospital
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