St. Luke's Hospital


As published in "The History of Racine and Kenosha Counties" (Chicago: 1879)


In 1871, Rev. E. C. Porter and Dr. De Koven, with the assistance of a few others, rented a small house for a hospital. Its management was so successful, that, from the start, it commended itself to the people, who have since given it a generous support. The original building was supplied with two beds, properly furnished; was opened and received the first inmate on the 25th day of December, 1871, Christmas Day. Soon after, two other beds were added, which were used by twenty-one patients the first year. The second year, two more beds were added, making six in all, this number being the full capacity of the building. The beds, bedding and furniture of the rooms were all given by the ladies of the city and of Racine College. That the Hospital should be a permanent charitable institution was intended from the beginning. On the 15th day of April, 1872, the corporators signed and adopted articles of association, obtaining rights and protection under the laws of the State. On the following Christmas Eve, a meeting was held in St. Luke's Church, at which time Hon. Charles E. Dyer and Dr. De Koven made appropriate remarks upon the present and future hospital work of Racine. In May next, through the efforts of A. G. Hartshorn and others, there was received as the beginning of a permanent fund, $800, with one year's interest, from the fund raised in Racine for the relief of the sufferers from the Chicago fire. A few months after, $150 was added to the fund, a gift of the German School Society, Mr. Frank Schneider being instrumental in obtaining it. Mr. Simeon Whiteley made a personal subscription of $25, and Mrs. Bernard $5 to the same fund. Upon several occasions, committees were appointed to examine building sites, with a view of purchasing, and report as to the best location upon which to erect a new building. On the evening of January 17, 1875, a second meeting was held in St. Luke's Church, at which time several gentlemen made addresses upon hospital work. Among the number were the late Rev. E. C. Porter, Rev. Dr. DeKoven, J. G. Mynn, Dr. Meachem, A. C. Fish, Rev. Mr. Sawin and Rev. Mr. Kilbourn, of this city, and Rev. Dr. Locke, of Chicago. At this meeting, a committee, consisting of the following-named citizens-Rev. E. C. Porter, Simeon Whiteley, T. G. Fish, W. T. Lewis, William K. May, H. T. Fuller and F. Schneider -- was appointed to solicit subscriptions for the building fund. Very soon after this, plans were drawn by George H. Clarke, of Chicago, for a building with a capacity for forty beds, was presented to the Trustees for examination. Estimates of the cost of a building after these, by Racine builders, placed the necessary expense at about $12,000. The search for a building site was ended in the following April by a gift from the late Rev. Porter and his wife, of two lots and ten feet in Block 37, School Section, fronting 170 feet on College avenue and 120 feet on Thirteenth street. This land was donated on two conditions: first, that within five years, a building to cost not less than $5,000 should be erected thereon; and, second that for five consecutive years thereafter, the building should be used for hospital purposes. The acceptance of this gift caused them to have Mr. Clarke's plans modified to reduce the probable expense, resulting, however, in a reduction of only about $1,000. Next comes the Centennial year, and the interest gotten up by the projects of the Centennial Improvement Association. The hospital matter was merged into this. The public meeting held in Belle City Hall added to the building fund $250 from J. I. Case, $250 and $100 from H. S. Durand. The Free Masons also contributed $108.35. The proceeds of a dinner given on the Fourth of July, in the Methodist Cburch, added $347, and through the efforts of S. Whiteley, George Beemer and others, an unexpended balance of $89, raised for the purchase of fire-works, was also added. In the mean time, plans were matured and adopted. W. H. Amos, of the College, having taken the matter in hand, produced a plan which, with some alterations, resulted in the one after which the new building has been erected. An estimate on this placed the probable expense at $5,500. The Trustees had also appointed two of their number to solicit subscriptions, Rev. E. B. Spaulding and J. G. Meachem, Jr., whose efforts secured $3,000. On August 15, the building fund, including subscriptions, amounted to $4,869. Proposals to erect the building were received on the same day, from L. Bradley, T. H. Davis, Joseph Bohn & Co., and Messrs. Lichter & May, the last named being the lowest bidders. After making some changes in the specifications, the contract was drawn and signed on the 25th day of August, Lichter & May being the contractors for the sum of $5,292. The building was begun immediately, and carried forward as fast as the weather would permit, and at the end of five months was ready for occupation. The corner-stone was laid on the 21st of September, without ceremony. During the course of construction, additions were made to the value of $208, making the cost of the entire building, as it now stands, $5,500.49- curious enough equal to the estimate of probable cost. The new building was taken possession of in February, 1877. It is now divided into five wards, supplied with eleven beds. In case of necessity, a sixth ward is accessible, and the number of beds may be increased to twenty-two. By a gift of $250 from Mrs. E. C. Porter, a ward was furnished with four beds complete in every respect, which is known as the Porter Ward. Uniform with it, Dr. De Koven and his friends have furnished another ward four beds, called the De Koven Ward. The ladies of the College furnished a room known as the College Room. One of the wards is furnished by the McDonald Lodge, No. 137, 1. 0. 0. F. The beds are of iron, and like those in the new Cook County Hospital in Chicago, having wirewoven spring mattresses. Many other societies, firms and individuals not mentioned, contribuled liberally in furthering the work. The institution is supported by contribution from the citizens. The Ladies Guild Society of Racine College contribute $250 and Mrs. E. C. Porter $250, per year. The institution is very pleasantly located, surrounded by nicely sodded grounds, and admirably managed. Robert Bell is Steward, and his wife Matron. The officers are: Rev. Arthur Piper, President; Dr. J. G. Meachem, Jr., Secretary; Trustees, the Warden of Racine College, Rev. Dr. F. W. A. Falk, Dr. J. G. Meachem, Sr., H. B. Moore, Physicians, Dr. J. G. Meachem, Sr., and Dr. J. G. Meachem, Jr. Treasurer, W. H. Amos.




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