Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Albion Recorder, January 24, 2002, pgs. 8, 9
Albion residents will certainly be waiting to learn the fate of our local hospital in the coming weeks. Critical decisions will be made that will affect our community for many years to come in many ways. Our citizens have always been vitally interested in the 1967-built facility on E. Erie St. that used to be called “Albion Community Hospital, ” which is now known as Trillium (the name was changed in December, 1996).
Albion has not always had a hospital to call its own. In the 19th century, Albions physicians made house calls and attended to patients in their own homes. By the beginning of the 20th century however, the need for a community medical facility was apparent. Mrs. Juliet Calhoun Blakeley (1818-1920), Albion’s so-called “original mother of Mother’s Day,” offered the use of her home on the southwest corner of S. Clinton and W. Center Streets to care for patients. Albion’s first hospital was opened here in early 1907, under the direction of Miss Sarah Wade, a registered nurse. It was known as Wade’s Hospital. This hospital was furnished with the help of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. By 1909, “Miss Wade had worn herself out by her untiring efforts and the quarters proved to be entirely inadequate,” reported the Albion Recorder in a 1935 article.
Also during the same period, a private organization of local doctors operated a hospital facility in the home and offices of Dr. A. B. Grant on W. Erie St. It was known as Grant’s Hospital. Both aformentioned facilities operated until the Albion City Hospital opened in 1909.
A mass meeting of concerned citizens was held at the Albion Opera House on January 15, 1909, to address health care problems in Albion, and to address the need for a community hospital. A new hospital association was formed which charged a membership fee of $1.00. The association rented the house at 218 E. Erie St., the former home of insurance salesman John O. Banks. The Albion City Hospital opened here on April 15, 1909. The director of the place was Miss Mary Binger of Detroit. Although a city hospital by name, it received no funds directly from local government until 1912, when it began receiving $50 per month. The amount was raised to $100 in 1921. Funds for the hospital were secured through special events, most notably a hospital ball sponsored by the local ladies’ E. L. T. Club.
The facility soon outgrew the space needed, and a house owned by George Howard at 111-113 W. Ash St. was remodeled and became the new Albion City Hospital on December 2, 1910. A “Miss Brownley” was named as superintentent of the facility. It contained twelve beds, and was supported by various community organizations, societies, and individuals. A west wing was added in 1915 which housed the operating room, sterilizing room, consultation room, and several rooms for patients. There were three wards, and twelve private rooms. The house at 115 W. Ash St. next door was purchased in 1912 as an annex.
Managing a hospital was long and tiring work, and subsequently there was a large turnover in the female superintendents. Between 1907 and 1924, there were twelve of them, known then as: Misses Wade, Binger, Brownley, Stark, Mench, Frazelle, Bishop, Marquist, Mrs. Mary E. McDonald, Mrs. Alice Slater, Miss Burlingame, and Mrs. Nellie Roe. The superintendents were in charge of not only the hospital, but the nurse’s training school as well which operated until 1933. One superintendent, Miss Josephine Frazelle (who became Mrs. Harry McAuliffe) resigned in January 1916 after having only served since March, 1915. The Albion Recorder reported at the time, “Miss Frazelle stated today that she greatly regretted to give up the work but that she felt that she could not continue at the risk of a physical breakdown.”
By the 1920s the hospital facilities at the W. Ash St. complex had become inadequate, and plans were made to construct a new Albion hospital. The City of Albion purchased land in the 800 block of S. Superior St. After a $50,000 donation from former resident James Sheldon “Don” Riley and additional local fundraising, the James W. Sheldon Memorial Hospital was built and opened in May, 1924. With that, the Alboin City Hospital on W. Ash St. was closed. The Sheldon Memorial Hospital operated until 1967 when Albion Community Hospital opened.
From the Archives this week we present a photograph circa 1915 of the Albion City Hospital at 111-113 W. Ash St., located here from 1910 to 1924. This building still stands today as an apartment house and has changed very little in appearance. To the right is the hospital annex, now demolished.
Albion City Hospital at 111-113 W. Ash St.
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic