The quality of mercy is not strained

Michael Bushnell
Publisher


General Hospital, or City Hospital as it was originally referred to, got its start in 1870 on a hill overlooking OK Creek near 22nd Street and McCoy Avenue, just off what was to become Robert Gillham Road. McCoy Avenue was later renamed Kenwood. The small frame structure only had space for a few beds, tended to by a handful of doctors and nurses in conditions that were less than ideal. By 1875, two additional structures were erected, increasing bed space to 75, but conditions were still archaic at best. Over the next 20 years the City funded various expansions and in 1897 a clinical amphitheater was added, seating 150 medical students.


In the early 1900’s the city voted for $225,000 in bond funding for the construction of a new hospital but architects Root & Siemens reported that another $175,000 would be needed in order to construct a modern, fireproof hospital adequate for the city’s future needs. The 4.5 acre tract of land was donated by Thomas F. Swope for the construction of a new hospital building dedicated as a charitable institution under the control of the City. The final tab for the new hospital was over $475,000, a princely sum in those days. The building shown on the left in this hand colored postcard published in 1914 was the newly constructed General Hospital that opened in 1908 at roughly 24th & Kenwood Avenue, two blocks south of the original frame structure. It was five stories high, fireproof, and featured a ventilating system that “washed” the air. Roughly a dozen sun parlors for the convalescents were also part of the new hospital that had the capacity to care for over 350 patients.


The city’s explosive growth during that time warranted the construction of a south wing, pictured on the right side of the postcard. A newspaper account of the new hospital noted its many features: “The hospital has an ice plant with a daily capacity of 1,000 pounds of ice. The building has an electric light plant and a complete laundry. Two electric elevators have been installed. The vacuum cleaning system will be used. The private switchboard has connection with 32 telephones in the building. The floors are hardwood laid on concrete and the window sills are all marble. The corners on the floor are round. In summertime the air will be cooled and in the winter heated by hot blast and steam, the degree of warmth to be regulated by thermostat.”


To the right of the main entrance a bronze tablet was erected honoring Colonel Swope and to the left of the entrance a bronze tablet bore this inscription: “Built by the people of Kansas City, her officials, her physicians, her architects, her artisans – each doing his part with loving thought of the good uses of these buildings.”


A terra cotta frieze over the front door of the new wing quotes Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice,” reading, “The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”


In the 1930’s it was renamed General Hospital No. 1 to distinguish it from the newly constructed General Hospital No. 2 that served the city’s African American population. The two operated autonomously until 1957 when they were merged to save money and achieve integration.


Budget cuts in the late 1960’s forced the hospital to turn away patients but also kickstarted the dialogue that ultimately led to the development of the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) Medical School, the relocation of Children’s Mercy Hospital to Hospital Hill and the construction of what was to become Truman Medical Center (TMC).


The old facility closed in 1976 upon the opening of TMC. In 1991 most of the old hospital was razed to make way for new construction. Growth and progress in 1992 then claimed the old north wing of the hospital despite the cries of historic preservationists to save the old facility. The only part of the old hospital that exists today is the frieze that was over the front door that now is mounted as a monument sign facing Holmes at 23rd Street. It was dedicated on September 23, 1995.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Remember This?

    May 18th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Floating along and holding the soap, Snoopy’s in the bathtub providing good, clean fun. Avon Products, Inc. […]


    Livestock Exchange Building stands as a testament to once proud Stockyard operation

    May 18th, 2022
    by

    By Micheal Bushnell About two years after the opening of the Hannibal Bridge over the Missouri River in 1869, the […]


    Remember This?

    May 11th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Only “three apples high,” these little blue men have grown in popularity since their first appearance in […]


    Great Flood displaces 22,000

    May 11th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This black and white photo postcard, published by the Southwest News Company of Kansas City, shows Union […]


    Remember This?

    May 4th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Since its first issue in 1932, The Northeast News has been headquartered at several different addresses. Founding […]


    Old flower shop slated for newsroom as award-winning Northeast News transitions to non-profit business model

    May 4th, 2022
    by

    Michael BushnellPublisher Rose Marie Serrone opened her flower and gift shop in a single story Art Deco-style building in 1946 […]


    Remember This?

    April 27th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle! Jelled desserts have come a long way since the 15th century, […]


    Mount Washington Park still a gem

    April 27th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This postcard, published by the Webb-Freyschlag Mercantile Company, shows a peaceful view of Swan Lake in Mount […]


  • Let’s go see Kansas City!

    April 20th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell “See Kansas City and know what you’re seeing,” states the description on the back of this Curt […]


    Remember This? Ecology Flag

    April 20th, 2022
    by

    By Dori Partain Creation of the Ecology Flag, the official flag for Earth Day, was truly a grassroots effort. The […]


    Nathan Scarritt, Melrose Methodist Church keys to early Northeast development

    April 13th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell A far cry from its humble beginnings in 1887 as a tent, this week’s real photo postcard […]


    Remember this? Plaza Bunnies

    April 13th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Whether the photo is black and white or taken in today’s digital format, generations of Kansas City […]


    Private mailing cards a true work of art

    April 6th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell As a public communication medium, postcards made their debut at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Ill., in […]


    Remember This?

    April 6th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain By today’s soft drink consumption standards, would a family size bottle only contain 24 ounces? As produced […]


    Camp Prairie Schooner – Still a destination for girls in Scouting

    March 30th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell The description on the back of this real photo postcard describes Camp Prairie Schooner Girl Scout Camp […]


    Remember This?

    March 30th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain The Old Maid rockets into space with this version of the popular card game aimed at the Baby […]


    Colonnaded apartments a Kansas City icon

    March 23rd, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell The Collinwood Apartments, located at 2501-2519 E. Linwood Blvd., were developed and built by William H. Collins […]


    Remember This?

    March 23rd, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain If you’re putting away your snow boots and getting your sneakers ready for spring, a pair of […]


    The old and the new

    March 15th, 2022
    by

    This week’s historic postcard is a Chrome era Tetricolor postcard published by James Teterick of Kansas City, Mo. The written […]


    Remember This?

    March 15th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Kansas City motorists had to keep change handy to cross two bridges that spanned the Missouri River […]


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.