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Imposing Butterworth hospital at Crescent street and Bostwick avenue is the outgrowth of a society organized in 1872 by a group of workers in St. Mark's Episcopal church to care for the aged and the sick regardless of creed or race. Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Fuller provided rent-free a small house on the west side of Bond avenue, south of Crescent street, and there in February, 1873, was opened St. Mark's Church home, with accommodations for six persons. The first board of managers consisted of the Reverend Samuel Earp, president; Mrs. E. P. Fuller, Mrs. Henry W. Hinsdale, Miss Louise Miller, Mrs. George Kendall and Mrs. P. R. L. Peirce.
In 1875 a more commodious house at 144 Island street, provided rent-free by Mr. and Mrs. Fuller, was occupied. In June, 1876, the society was incorporated as St. Mark's Home and Hospital. A medical staff was organized, Dr. Alonzo Platt became house physician, and soon a free dispensary was established. In 1883 the trustees and managers secured $6,000 by subscriptions and the property was purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Fuller at half its value.
November 28, 1887, Richard E. Butterworth offered the association the site for a new home at the southwest corner of Michigan street and Bostwick avenue, for which he had paid $11,500. The Island street property was sold and plans made to raise money to build the new home. Mr. Butterworth died January 6, 1888. Shortly before his death he gave St. Mark's Home and Hospital property which two years later was sold for $12,500, and by his will he added to his previous gifts a legacy of $15,000.
A building committee, consisting of Dr. Charles S. Hazeltine, Willard Barnhart and Philo C. Fuller--son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Fuller--chose plans, the contract for the new building was let and construction began August 8, 1888. The structure, completed at a cost of about $48,000, was opened for public inspection April 26, 1890. It being deemed expedient not to care for the aged with the sick and injured, this branch of the association's work ceased, and the institution was devoted wholly to hospital purposes. Accordingly the name of the building was contracted to St. Mark's hospital.
July 28, 1891, Mrs. J. Edward Earle, Mrs. David Breed of Chicago and Mrs. John C. Shields of Colorado Springs, daughters, and George T. Kendal, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. George Kendall, offered to build a home for nurses in conjunction with the hospital, donating $8,000 for this purpose. The offer was accepted, the Kendall Home for Nurses was erected and opened March 28, 1893.
January 25, 1894, the hospital's name was changed to Butterworth, in honor of Richard E. Butterworth, who had so generously endowed it. The same year a society called the Butterflies was organized, and annually during the next five or six years raised from $1,000 to $3,000. In 1902 four new guilds were organized to help pay off an indebtedness of $9,000. In 1907 the board of trustees expended $25,000 in alterations and improvements, the members paying the bills. A free dispensary was re-established the same year. With changes and improvements Butterworth became a 98-bed hospital.
In 1911 Mr. and Mrs. Edward Lowe purchased three houses adjoining the hospital grounds, had them made over and presented them to the hopital. In 1915 Mr. and Mrs. Lowe gave Golden Rule Cottage, with its equipment. In 1916 two more cottages were secured, and a clinical laboratory established.
The structure erected in 1890 was outgrown in less than 30 years. Mr. and Mrs. Lowe in 1922 purchased for $200,000 a site at Crescent street and Bostwick avenue and proposed to erect on it a new hospital, at a cost of $500,000. But the trustees asked that the public be permitted to subscribe another $500,000. Mr. Lowe consenting, a drive for funds was set for one week in November, 1922, under the general chairmanship of Robert W. Irwin. This was so successful that $706,000 was pledged. Building operations were begun, but the cost exceeded estimates, and just before the new hospital was ready for occupancy $314,000 was raised by a second public subscription.
The present magnificent Butterworth Hospital, 270 beds, without debt, was formally opened June 1, 1925. The old building was then converted into quarters for nurses.
Blodgett Memorial hospital traces its history back to July 16, 1846, when a few charitable women met in the Prospect hill school to form a society for benevolent purposes. Mrs. Charlotte Cuming presided and Mrs. M. E. Church acted as secretary. January 5, 1847, a constitution was adopted and the Female Union Charitable association elected these officers: Mrs. Cuming, president; Mrs. W. G. Henry, secretary; Mrs. Lucinda Shepard, treasurer. The plan was for the women of the church to look after and relieve sick and needy persons; to clothe children for day and Sunday schools; to encourage among the dependent poor habits of thrift, industry and cleanliness.
In 1858 the Grand Rapids Orphan Asylum association was incorporated, to continue this welfare work. The same year a small house on Prospect avenue was rented and opened for service, with Mrs. Lucia Johnson as matron. Soon after the association purchased and occupied a house on LaGrave avenue, where for six years the same charitable work was continued. At the outbreak of the Civil War the city concentrated its efforts on caring for the soldiers and the work of the orphan asylum association lagged. And when in 1863 the matron died from the efforts of her services at the camp hospitals, the little home on LaGrave avenue was closed. But the children who had been inmates were provided for elsewhere.
In 1866 interest revived, and in December the name of the organization was changed to the Ladies' Union Benevolent society. The house and lot on LaGrave avenue were sold and in the fall of 1870 a home for the friendless and destitute opened in rented quarters on Fountain street. There were accommodations for fifteen persons, but in May, 1871, the society was forced to abandon these quarters.
In January, 1873, the society was incorporated as the Union Benevolent association, the charter providing for all kinds of benevolent work, with the privilege of maintaining a home and hospital for the aged, infirm, sick and needy. The Cuming homestead on Bostwick avenue, near Lyon, was purchased, put in good repair and in December, 1875, the U. B. A. Home opened its doors. In 1878 Thomas D. Gilbert, then treasurer of the association, assumed and discharged the association's accumulated debt of $8,000. This Bostwick avenue home and hospital was occupied thirteen years.
March 25, 1882, the trustees started a campaign to raise funds with which to erect a new and larger hospital on a site at Lyon street and College avenue, which had been purchased by the Ladies Union Benevolent society in 1869. The public pledged more than $28,000. U. B. A. hospital was constructed at a cost of $31,707 and opened February 23, 1886. In 1887 the property on Bostwick avenue was sold for $6,000. In November, 1886, a training school for nurses was opened in connection with the hospital. In 1895 the Union Benevolent association discontinued care of the aged, which many other societies had taken up, and the U. B. A. building became wholly devoted to hospital purposes until 1916, when Blodgett Memorial hospital was completed.
John W. Blodgett, who for almost 25 years had been president of the Union Benevolent association, recognized the necessity for a larger hospital. The association purchased the triangular site bound by Wealthy and Sherman streets and Plymouth avenue, in East Grand Rapids, and on it Mr. Blodgett in 1914 began the erection of one of the most beautiful and most perfectly equipped hospitals in the United States. The cost to him was upwards of $700,000. When completed he turned it over to the Union Benevolent association as a memorial to his mother, Mrs. Jane Wood Blodgett, and as Blodgett Memorial hospital it was opened March 31, 1916. On the same site the U. B. A. built the Marion Louis Withey training school for nurses.
Blodgett Memorial hospital is owned and maintained by the Union Benevolent association. When completed it was a 122-bed hospital, but changes in rooms now give it accommodations for 152 patients, including 18 infant beds in the nursery. Mr. Blodgett has continued to make liberal donations for equipment.
St. Mary's hospital originated with the donation by Mrs. Mary McNamara of her old home at 145 South Lafayette street to the Sisters of Mercy. August 17, 1893, Sister Mary Ignatius and two other sisters, coming from Big Rapids, took possession of the residence, which was remodeled for hospital purposes. Another house from Mrs. McNamara's property at Sheldon avenue and Maple street was moved to the rear and connected with the hospital. During the first year 74 patients were cared for.
In 1898 a three-story addition was built, another in 1900. Finally a substantial five-story brick structure was erected, to accommodate 65 patients. The sisters purchased more property west of the original site, with buildings now used for nurses' quarters.
In November, 1914, during a week's campaign for funds, the public subscribed $384,316 for erection and equipment of a seven-story modern addition, which was ready for occupancy late in 1926. The hospital now has a total capacity of 190 beds.
Transcriber: Ronnie Aungst
Created: 16 January 2000