The number of railroad accidents made the need for a hospital strongly felt

Posted by | February 27, 2014

“The Western Maryland Hospital, the first institution of its kind in Allegany County, was erected on Baltimore Avenue to minister to the suffering. The building stands there as a monument to the public-spirited women who made the hospital possible.

“In 1888, thirty five years ago, a group of Cumberland women, realizing their duty to fellow citizens, hit upon the plan of establishing an old folks’ home, in that way to be of service to the older men and women who did not have the comforts of a private home.

“The members of the group included Mrs. CJ Orrick, Mrs. William Shepherd, Mrs. PH Daughtrey, Mrs. Beverly Randolph, Mrs. ST Little, Miss Belle Resley, Mrs. S Hamburger, Mrs. Sussman Rosenbaum, Mrs. Simon Rosenbaum, Mrs. TL Darnell, Mrs. RI Morris, Mrs. JW Avirett, Mrs. Merwin McKaig, Mrs. MARF Carr, and Mrs. EH Welsh.

Postcard of Western Maryland Hospital, published by Neff Novelty Company, Cumberland, MD, circa 1916.

“As a direct result of the efforts of these women, the Western Maryland Home was established at 64 Bedford St, the former home of Dr. GJ Beachey, being rented for the purpose. Several wards were admitted to the home, and the institution was doing excellent work, but it was noted before long that Cumberland was without a hospital, and that there was an urgent need for such an institution.

“The number of railroad accidents in the vicinity, particularly those on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, made the need for a hospital even more strongly felt. The leaders of the group which started the home saw how injured men were brought into the basement of the Queen City Hotel for treatment by the Baltimore & Ohio officials.

“The facilities, without a doubt, were inadequate, and within a year after the Western Maryland Home was opened, the women in charge decided to widen the scope of the institution. The institution then became the Western Maryland Home and Infirmary, and for the first time, aside from the aged wards, there were admitted patients for treatment.

“The Western Maryland soon thereafter moved to Union and Ellen Streets, a much larger building than the one previously occupied. With the growth of the quarters, growth in activity also took place. Not only residents of Cumberland, but many persons from other points in the county and from nearby places in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, came to the local hospital for treatment.

“More than ever before it began to be felt that there was a necessity for a big, modern hospital in Cumberland. A movement with that purpose in view was inaugurated. Private subscriptions were secured by the women, who canvassed the city thoroughly. The building committee was composed of CJ Orrick, JNM Brandler, Sigmund Tanzer, PH Daughtrey and RD Rohrer.

“The contract to build was awarded to George D. Landwehr, who offered the lowest bid. As soon as the new building was completed, the seven or eight wards, who had been taken care of at the home on Ellen Street, were moved to the Baltimore Avenue building.

“The original building was opened and dedicated on November 21, 1892, by religious excercises held by the Ministerial Association, participated in by Rev. Clarence Buell, Rabbi Stern, of the Jewish Synagogue; Rev. Walter Witten, of Christ Reformed Church; Rev. Finkbiner, of the English Luthern Church; Presiding Elder Wheeler, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Rev. James E. Moffatt, DD, of the First Presbyterian Church. These exercises were followed by brilliant addresses in the evening, made by Hon. George A. Pearre and Dr. CH Ohr.

“The hospital flourished, continuing to treat hundreds of sick and injured. This was done indeed so successfully, that it once more became necessary to enlarge the institution. What is known as the southwest wing was erected, and the State was asked for an additional appropriation of $5,000. This the State declined to grant unless the title of the property was vested in the State of Maryland.

“A compromise was effected by which it was agreed that if the people of Cumberland would raise by private contributions half of the amount, the State would furnish the other half. A committee composed of James W. Thomas, president of the board, and Messrs. J. Henry Holtzhue, RH Daughtrey and Arthur H. Amick, was appointed, and succeeded in raising the full amount needed, and the State appropriated the $2,500, in addition to the usual $5,000, which sum the State continued to appropriate for some years, ultimately increasing it from time to time, until the annual appropriation reached the sum of $9,000, and this continued until the present per diem basis was inaugurated.”

source: “History of Allegany County Maryland,” by James W. Thomas, LL.D. and Judge T.J.C. Williams, 1924

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