Tuesday, June 7, 2011

St. Joseph Hospital - Bellingham, Washington

Although I might prefer spending time in a hospital that looks like this instead of one of those massive institutions, I would like to make one request: don't carry my stretcher up those front steps. This 53-bed facility was built in 1901 for $21,000 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. They raised money to build it by selling hospital tickets far and wide, including to gold miners in Alaska.  Many children with polio were hospitalized here during the 1940s and 1950s.  The facility was expanded several times, but was finally replaced in 1966.


The back of the card has no message, only the address of Miss Phoebe Stinson of Boston.


More information and pictures of the hospital can be found here.

13 comments:

  1. Interesting style of architecture for a hospital design, and all those steps . . . !!

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  2. Funny to send a postcard of a hospital.....

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  3. Hallo Christine,
    ich hab mich lange nicht mehr gemeldet.
    Ich hoffe es geht dir gut und du genießt den Frühling.
    Ich liebe deine Automobilkarten, vor allem die erste. Da sieht man gleich wer das Ruder in der Hand hält.
    Ich wünsch dir einen schönen Tag
    Janine

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  4. Like a castle in the wind. A stairway to long stay.

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  5. Definitely looks more like an old resort hotel than a hospital. I'm pretty sure they would admit you at a driveway entry on the upper level of the site Christine, the front stairs are probably just used to discharge unruly patients- "have a nice trip, see you next fall" as the grade school joke went!

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  6. I'm pretty sure that 'difficult patient' orientation includes a bouncy trip up those front steps, so I know they'd try to do that for me if they could.

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  7. It still exists today, though not quite in the configuration the postcard shows. They are apartments now and still have a fine view out over the bay. My brother's friend had a basement apartment that had floor drains, which I wonder about!

    Come to think of it both my mother and brother were born here, too. Interesting card.

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  8. Steven,
    Thanks for stopping by. What a great place to be born. I wouldn't mind living in one of those apartments, although floor drains might give me pause.

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  9. Hi, it's me again. Your blog here reminded me that it was my brother's birthday today, so I called him. Thank you for your very timely post today!

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  10. Very strange for a hospital, but glad to hear the building survives as housing.

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  11. I am very interested in the history of the old st. Josephs hostpital. I understand that the original hospital is no longer there, and that it was replaced by two newer buildings that sit on its foundation, and being used as apartments. I used to live there as a kid, and ever since have been puzzled by its foundation. I've been told that there was an underground tunnel that led from the nunnery to the hospital, and have seen many things that seem to confirm this. I'm looking for someone who has lived there and is able to add information to this mystery. Also, really like this post card.

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    1. You asked this question long ago but I came across it by chance when I found this blog. I lived in the apartments in 2012-2014 and can confirm there is an underground tunnel. The most common story I've heard for the existence of the tunnel was that it was used for wheeling bodies out to waiting coroner's vehicles so as not to take them through the main doors of the hospital. I know it goes from the existing building's basement out to the lower street level; this link shows a circular opening that has been filled with rocks - that is the street end of the tunnel: https://www.google.com/maps/@48.7381405,-122.4924344,3a,37.5y,127.34h,91.17t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s5klrnoHTrPi_Ep6sobFLLg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

      It may also have another branch that connects to the nunnery building but I don't know that for sure. You can see the structure of the original stairs to the right of the driveway with the tunnel. The stairs in the postcard compared to the stairs now show the many changes that happened over the years. At what point the tunnel was added, I don't know.

      Farther down the street under the existing nunnery building is a strange large basement area: https://www.google.com/maps/@48.7376358,-122.4932732,3a,90y,114.61h,89.58t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sOcxDrXjk3m-qi5I0dqVhfw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

      You can look in the windows and through a very large crack between the doors; it is empty inside and chained shut. Looking toward the back of that basement area, there are a few steps up to another large door. Where that leads, I don't know. Possibly it connects to the tunnel.

      The tunnel is not accessible by residents, but is still used by the building maintenance crew to access the boiler system that heats the building. The remaining elevator in the building (there used to be 2) goes to the tunnel with a special key. Strangely the stairs end and I don't know of a staircase that can access the tunnel, though that seems very strange for safety reasons.

      I know someone who was able to access the tunnel once with a maintenance person and vowed never to go back. I have heard rumors of there still being hospital items down there - wheelchairs, etc. but can't confirm this myself. I have many strange accounts of the building and odd things that people have reported seeing and hearing, though whether you believe or are interested in that probably depends on your tolerance for the strange/unknown.

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  12. Does anyone know what event (as mentioned below) my father may have attended. Perhaps the opening of the new hospital? 1966: My dad, John Bernard Borman, (12/14/22-11/30/2010), told me the following story: He was hospitalized with a shrapnel wound to the cheek in 1945, inflicted during the Battle of Normandy, in which he was the only one of his unit to survive. He was sent to a hospital in Devizes, England where he met and fell in love with a nurse named Kathleen Dunleavy, (Dunlevy?) from County Rossom, Ireland, and fathered Judith Ann (also my name!), who was born July 4,1945. Dad returned home to my mom and us three kids, with the intention to divorce mom and return to marry Kathleen, but his father said he would be disowned from the family if he did this. I like to think that seeing his wife and children also had something to do with why he changed his mind.
    Mom not only forgave him, she corresponded with Kathleen and sent gifts for the baby, until she "could stand it no more" (her words) and threw away the most recent letter from K, which effectively stopped the correspondence.
    Dad claims Judith was adopted by an Oxford Don and Kathleen became a nun. He believes he saw her at St. Joseph's Hospital, Bellingham, WA., as she traveled through the United States with a group of Irish nuns who were serving as nurses in Africa and were visiting hospitals in the US. He said he went to a ceremony for the re-dedication of the hospital and he saw her walking down the corridor. She greeted him by name, but he was not able to approach her. I was told by the St. Joseph's info director that they were probably nuns of the "Sisters of Saint Joseph of Peace.”

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