The Roosevelt Hospital 1872

( West Fifty-ninth street.)

This Institution was founded and endowed by the bequest of the late James H. Roosevelt, Esq., of New York city. This gentleman inherited a fine estate from his parents, which he very materially increased during his lifetime, and finally bequeathed it to the founding of one of the most humane and excellent charities of the world. During his early years he pursued the study of law, graduating with honor after passing the usual course at Columbia College. Some time after his graduation he was admitted to practice, and expected to marry Miss Julia Maria Boardman, an estimable lady of this city. But one month had scarcely elapsed, after his admission to practice law, ere he was smitten with a stroke of paralysis so severe as to entirely frustrate his most cherished earthly plans, and render him an invalid for life. For more than thirty years he could only walk with the aid of crutches, spending most of the time at his residence in New York, shut out by his infirmities from the chief circles of business and fashion.

During these years he gave quiet attention to the improvement of his fortune, to books, and the cultivation of those tempers so invaluable in time and eternity. Though he never married, the most affectionate relation subsisted between him and the lady of his early choice through all his years, to whom he left at death, which occurred in November, 1863, an annuity of $4,000, making her also the executrix of his estate. His estate at his death, which approximated a million, and has since been much increased, consisted in real estate situated in New York and Westchester counties, and in valuable and available stocks. A sufferer through most of his life, his mind was naturally drawn out in sympathy for those as afflicted as himself, and whose condition was even more pitiable because destitute of the means of comfort he enjoyed. Most of his personal estate he therefore left " in trust to the several and successive presidents ex officio, for the time being, of the respective managing boards of those five certain incorporations in the city of New York, known as The Society of the New York Hospital, The College of Physicians and Surgeons, The New York Eye Infirmary, The Demilt Dispensary, and The New York Institution for the Blind,' and to the Honorable James I. Roosevelt, Edwin Clark, Esq., John M. Knox, Esq., and Adrian H. Muller, Esq., all of New York, for the establishment, in the city of New York, of a hospital for the reception and relief of sick and diseased persons, and for its permanent endowment."

This board of nine trustees has sole charge of the Institution and its endowment, and has power to fill all vacancies occurring from death, resignation, or otherwise, of any of the four trustees not before designated by title of office, from male native-born citizens, residents of the city of New York. The use of his real estate he bequeathed to his nephew, James C. Roosevelt Brown, of Rye, N . Y., the same to be also divided equally between his heirs, but in case of his or their demise without lawful issue, then the same was to be disposed of by his executors, and the proceeds added to the Hospital endowment. This nephew survived him but forty days, and died without issue, leaving the property to the Institution to which his uncle had devoted it.

The act incorporating the Roosevelt Hospital was passed by the Legislature February 2, 1864, granting the corporation power to receive the legacy, and any others that might be added, to purchase and hold property free from taxation in carrying out the directions of the founder of the Institution. In 1868 a whole block of ground was purchased lying between Fifty-eighth and Fifty-ninth streets, Ninth and Tenth avenues, for the sum of $185,000. This ground is now valued at $400,000. The corner-stone of the Hospital was laid on the last day of October, 1869, Rev. Thomas De Witt, D.D., Edward Delafield, M.D., and other distinguished gentlemen, taking part in the services. When the usual contributions of papers, etc., had been placed in the corner-stone, Dr. Delafield,  resident of the board, moved it to the place, saying, " I now lay the corner-stone of the Roosevelt Hospital, and may centuries pass before what is deposited here will again be revealed to mortal eye."

The Hospital fronts on Fifty-ninth street, and is to consist, if the plan is ever Entirely completed, of four pavilions, each one hundred and seventy feet long by thirty wide in the central part forming the wards, and a front of fifty-six feet on Fifty-ninth street. The pavilions are to be three stories high, of brick, with rich stone trimmings, above a high stone basement, covered with Mansard roof. The wards are each thirty feet wide by ninety-three long, and fifteen feet high, arranged for twenty-eight patients each, affording 1,494 cubic feet of space to each. The basement of the one now erected contains an ophthalmic, a children's, and an accident ward, and some small rooms for delirious patients.

The main stairways are all to be of iron and stone. Ventilating shafts are to be placed at the end of each ward, to carry off foul air and introduce fresh. The lavatories, supplied with vapor baths, shower baths, basins, etc., are situated at the southern end of the pavilions, separated from the wards by wide halls. In the center of the block fronting on Fifty-ninth street is the administration building, through which is the entrance to the Hospital. This building contains the offices and apartments for officers, the apothecary room, chemical laboratory, etc. In the rear of this stands another separate building, containing the kitchen, laundry, the heating and ventilating apparatus. This and the pavilion before described are now completed and the other central pavilion and the administration building will soon follow, furnishing accommodations for six hundred patients, and costing about $600,000. These can be completed, leaving an endowment fund of at least $600,000 for the support of the Institution. It is likely that this is as far as the building plan will be carried, unless other legacies are added to the enterprise. the site is an elevated and beautiful one over-looking the Hudson, and as most of the hospitals have been erected on the eastern side of the island, the selection appears to have been well made. The locality will soon be crowded with a dense population, that will need the liberal provisions of this generous benefactor.


Website: The History
Article Name: The Roosevelt Hospital 1872
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: New York and its Institutions, 1609-1873 by Rev. J.F. Richmond; publisher: E.B. Treat, 805 Broadway-New York (1872)
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