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Rochester General Hospital Emerges: 1900-1920

Rochester hospital 1907 
Rochester City Hospital in 1907

Eastman Gift

The new century was ushered in with the opening of the Isabella Graham Hart Nurse's Residence. James C. Hart gave the colonial revival style building in memory of his wife who had been a member of the Board of Lady Managers. In 1907 the Hart family gave another memorial building, the James C. Hart Maternity Building which was built opposite the nurse’s home.

By 1909, the Rochester City Hospital’s buildings were obsolete and in need of replacement.George Eastman's spontaneous gift made it possible to rebuild the hospital into one of the most complete medical institutions in Western New York.

At the time, this was the largest philanthropic gift on record in the city, and Rochester City hospital was the chief recipient, receiving $400,000 - an amount equal to $8,000,000 in 2004 dollars.

Rochester City Hospital used the funds to reconstruct the main building and erect two five-story patient wings, a boiler house, laundry facilities, and the isolation wards. The new complex was completed in 1911 and renamed Rochester General Hospital.

City Hospital Receives Gift of Four Hundred
Thousand Dollars from George Eastman

Money Will Be Used for the Erection of a New Main Building Which Will Make the Institution the Most Complete in Western New York --- Plans Are Already Being Prepared by local Architect.

It was learned by the Union Advertiser late this afternoon that George Eastman had made a gift of $400,000 to the City Hospital.

The gift is to be used in the construction of a new main building for the institution.

An architect has for some time been engaged in making the plans for the building. The new building will make the institution one of the most complete of its kind in western New York.

The gift is probably the largest ever made to a local institution. Mr. Eastman has made many liberal gifts to local hospitals and other institutions and recently gave $60,000 to the Homeopathic Hospital. He has also given valuable property to the city for park purposes, recently donating thirty acres of land adjoining Cobb’s Hill, which will be converted into a park in connection with the new reservoir.

The board of lady managers of the City Hospital held its annual meeting late this afternoon, when announcement was made of the gift.

The plans are in the hands of Gordon & Madden, architects, in the Sibley building.

Mr. Eastman sailed for Europe a few days ago.

One of the conditions of Mr. Eastman’s gift was that provision would be made for patients with contagious diseases. The ‘D’ - diphtheria, ‘M’ - measles and ‘S’ - scarlet fever buildings located on the Troup Street side of the hospital met this requirement.

The Board of Lady Managers of the City Hospital held its annual meeting on the afternoon of January 21 1909, when Henry Danforth announced Mr. Eastman’s gift. Mrs. Arthur Robinson, President of the Board of Lady Managers wrote to Mrs. Francis Macomber about the exciting news and its effect on the assembly.

Letter 1

Rochester January twenty first

My dear Pagie

How I did wish you were at the Hospital Meeting this afternoon when Mr. Danforth told the wonderful thrilling news that Mr. Eastman had given us four hundred thousand dollars for a new Main Building. You can imagine the enthusiasm with which it was received

I thought dear Mrs. Perkins would faint from excitement. I received your note this morning but what you asked me to say to the Board, made not the slightest impression. They did not seem to consider it worth a thought & you were voted in as well as all the other Board officers. I think we will all have to confess that we are glad to serve another year  which will be such an eventful one.

Letter 2
Letter 3

Mrs. Hoyt did read her report though her courage gave out just before the time. Mr. Danforth spoke very urgently & pleasantly to her about it & I told her I knew she would not fail us, but it was hard for her & her face was flushed. I was so sorry for her but the announcement of the great gift directly afterward cleared the sky through good feeling everywhere.

There were eleven men & thirteen women present. Quite a success, I think! We were in Lakewood a year ago I know how attractive you will find it there.

I presume Mrs. Angel has written you too, but my little neighbor at the meetings had to hear the news from me as well.

Affectionately Yours

Jane H. Robinson

Letter 4
Rochester hospital 2

Rochester hospital 3

Rochester General Hospital, 1915