Remember St. Clare's

1940s - The Beginning

1940s | In the Beginning | Dedication | Petition | History Timeline | Photos | News Clips | Headlines

SCHENECTADY UNION-STAR, Friday, Aug. 12, 1949

St. Clare’s Hospital Answer to Dream Shared by All
Dedication Ends 30 Years of Hopes and Many Delays

A dream shared by Schenectadians of all faiths for more than a quarter of a century will be fulfilled with the dedication of the new $3 million St. Clare’s hospital this afternoon.

It was about 1917 that a plot of land near Central Park was purchased by the late Bishop Thomas F. Cusack of the Albany Catholic diocese. The land was to be the site for a Sister’s hospital, for which a need apparently existed even then. The death shortly thereafter of Bishop Cusack, however, temporarily postponed consideration of the idea.

Bishop Edmund F. Gibbons in the years that followed received hundreds of letters from Schenectadians of all religious denominations requesting, even demanding, that work on such a hospital be delayed no longer.

About 20 years after the purchase of the land, Ellis Hospital announced the need for additional hospital facilities, and the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis were invited to come to the city and inspect the site.

Sisters Agree to Manage

A decision by the nuns that the plot of land was too small, and the need for an additional wing at Ellis hospital, postponed construction. A drive for funds to finance the Ellis wing made it practically impossible to start a campaign for the Sister’s hospital immediately. However, the Sisters agreed to manage the hospital, even though construction would be delayed a few years.

In 1942, 16 additional acres adjoining the site were purchased from the Furman estate. The land for the hospital now had a frontage of 493 feet, a depth of 1,000 feet to the westerly line of Central Park, and a frontage of 430 feet on Bradley St.

Previous to the purchase of the additional land, interested persons decided that a petition signed by 20,000 people might speed up the construction and make a campaign for funds feasible. The petition was drafted by Frank Dickershaid, roofing and sheet metal worker, and was started in the General Electric Company. Moving like wildfire, the petition collected the signatures of 125,000 Schenectadians.

First Campaign Begun

After the project had been dormant for some time, probably due to the war., the people of Schenectady began discussion of it again, and on Aug. 16, 1945, a campaign for $1,200,000 was started with Laurence G. Magner as campaign chairman.

The response of the people of Schenectady to the drive sent the campaign approximately $300,000 over the goal. However, original cost estimates of the hospital doubled. Again construction was postponed, although York and Sawyer, specialists in hospital architecture, received the bid to design the hospital.

Construction was postponed even further when, in July of 1946, the Civilian Production Authority denied the authority to erect buildings, "due to a shortage of the materials and facilities required."

Magner, the Rev. William C. Keane of St. Luke’s Church and Aaron N. Kiff of the York and Sawyer firm went to Washington to appeal the case, which received CPA approval in August that same year. The construction contract was let in September to the Irons and Reynolds Construction company of New York city. The ground was broken on Oct. 25, and actual construction began Oct. 26. The first shovel of ground was turned by Bishop Gibbons, Magner and Mother Aquilina, then provincial superior of the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis. The steel contract was let to the Harris Structural Steel Company of New York City.

Second Campaign Launched

The need for additional funds to complete the construction of the hospital arose last year, and in April, 1948, a second fund raising campaign was launched with Henry Schaffer as chairman. This drive also was successful in that $1,553,809 was pledged and collected.

Others who assisted in last year’s campaign were Dr. William E. Gazeley, chairman of the doctors’ committee; Dr. Harry Meyerhoff, dentists’ committee; Deputy Police Chief Henry F. Madigan, national firms division; Dr. Carter Davidson, president of Union college, initial gifts committee; Barnett O. Fowler, publicity committee; Simon Etkin, city employees division; Jerome H. King, business men’s division, and Mrs. Isaac Shapiro and Mrs. William E. Gazeley, co-leaders of the women’s division.

The cornerstone for the 200-bed hospital was laid June 13, 1948, by Bishop Gibbons.

Board Members

The hospital was incorporated June 21, 1945, and a corporate board was established. The board includes, Bishop Gibbons, president; Mother M. Simon Petra, provincial head of the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis, vice-president; Father Keane, secretary; the Rev. Leo B. Schmidt, pastor of St. Joseph’s church, treasurer; Sister Juliana, assistant treasurer, and Sisters Bonaventure, Auxentia, Seraphim and Maria, OSF.

Members of the hospital advisory board, in addition to Magner, are Mrs. Joseph E. Milano, secretary; Joseph Connelly, Thomas Ervin, Dr. Gazeley, Henry Schaffer, Ezra E. Talmadge, Edward Wallingford and W. Howard Wright.

Hostesses To Guide Public At St. Clare’s

Fourteen volunteer hostesses will guide Schenectadians through the new $3 million St. Clare’s hospital after dedication ceremonies this afternoon.

The hostesses will also be on hand between 2 and 5 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday afternoon when the hospital will again be held open to the public.

The hostesses are Miss Elenor Platto, Mrs. James P. Kalteaux, Mrs. Michael Leding, Mrs. Francis X. Wallace, jr., Miss Dorothy Kivlin, Mrs. Francis Mulcare, Mrs. Robert Rosenberger, Miss Helen Sartoris, Mrs. Dorothy Goodrow, Mrs. Gertrude De Cerbo, Mrs. Daniel J. O’Connor, Mrs. Henry Bates, Mrs. Pierce Holohan and Mrs. Emma Welch.

1940s | In the Beginning | Dedication | Petition | History Timeline | Photos | News Clips | Headlines