Old Post Card Shows Troy's Stouder Memorial Hospital In Its Early Years
By Judy Deeter
This post card image shows Troy’s Stouder Memorial Hospital as it looked a few years after it opened. As it aged, several additions were made to the building. The appearance of the hospital campus in the post card picture is far different than what the campus looks like today. The hospital closed in June 1998 and its medical services were transferred to the Upper Valley Medical Center. The building is now an office complex known as the Stouder Center. It is at 1100 Wayne Street in Troy.
The post card was published by I. Robbins and Son of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The exact date it was created is not known. No publication date is printed on the card; because it was never mailed, it has no postmark date. Someone has, however, written a date of October 1, 1939 on the bottom front of the card.
In the mid-1920s, Troy did not have a public hospital. Its hospitals were private facilities, which were owned and operated by local doctors. Augustus Stouder, President of the Hobart Manufacturing Company, wanted to give something back to Troy, the place where he had found success in life. Stouder decided to donate part of his fortune to construct a city hospital. (Note: He also donated funds to start the Troy Foundation, which continues to benefit people and organizations today.)
In the 1930’s, Bond Houser, then Vice President of the Stouder Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, wrote: “A.G. Stouder lived and labored a life-time in this city of ours. He started as a poor man in a small town. He created, he conserved, he chose able business associates; the institutions with which he was associated became Troy’s important life-sustaining industries. He was rewarded with wealth greater than most people.” (From publication TROY—THE BEST SMALL TOWN IN OHIO, article “The Stouder Memorial Hospital”)
On May 17, 1926, Mr. J. C. Fullerton appeared before the Troy City Council on behalf of Stouder to announce that Stouder would donate $200,000 to build a hospital. The City Council immediately endorsed the proposal and quickly held a meeting of citizens to help in planning for the hospital. The donation was set up so that $100,000 would be used to construct the hospital and $100,000 would be used for an endowment. The city passed a bond measure for $100,000 to be used for the first 40 beds. Troy citizens led by H. B. Carver raised $73,000 for hospital equipment and maintenance for its first two years of operation. The cost to construct the hospital was $208,000. The architect for the hospital’s original building was Schenck and Williams of Dayton.
The hospital was built at Highland Park, an athletic field that had been a Troy sports site. Early Troy football and baseball games were played there. The land was given by the City of Troy. According to historical records, only a portion of the Highland Park land was used for the hospital.
On February 3, 1928, Stouder proposed giving another $40,000 to build a nurses’ home at the hospital. It was built and still stands today. In the post card image, it is the building on the right side of the picture.
The hospital opened for public viewing on Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, 1928. Also, that month, Dr. Warren Coleman was elected as the hospital’s first Chief of Staff. Six patients were admitted to the hospital soon after the opening day.
It should be noted one of the features of the hospital reception hall was a large oil painting of Stouder by artist Mary Coleman Allen. Mary Coleman Allen was a niece by marriage of Mrs. Mary Jane Hayner, whose home is today the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center. She was a niece by Mrs. Hayner’s first marriage to Horace Coleman, Jr. Some Mary Coleman Allen paintings are on permanent display at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center. The Stouder painting is now owned by Upper Valley Medical Center Foundation. It is not on public display. A picture of the painting was published in the book TROY YESTERDAY TODAY AND TOMORROW. The book, published by the Hobart Brothers Company Public Relations Department (about 1950), is in several libraries throughout Miami County.
Sadly, the life of Augustus Stouder ended soon after the hospital named in his honor opened. He died there on January 10, 1929.
Later that year, the American Stock Market crashed and in the 1930s the Great Depression hit the United States. The economic troubles of the United States affected the hospital. During the early 1930s, the hospital patient count dropped to about 14 people per day. To save money, the nurses home was closed and for a time nurses lived on the first floor of the hospital building. The first floor re-opened to patients in 1936.
Between 1945-1947, an east wing was added to the hospital. It had a new bassinet nursery, delivery room, obstetrical rooms and an emergency room. The new wing was designed by well-known architect Freeman Pretzinger. Work went slowly on the project because the contractors had difficulty in finding bricks to match the older part of the hospital. 1945, of course, was near the end of World War II. There were many kinds of material shortages at the time because of the war.
In the coming years, several additions to the hospital building were named for Troy individuals or families: the Hayner Memorial (1960), the Brukner Wing (1972), the Stouder Wellness Center (1981) and the Bowyer-Meeker Wing (1984).
On February 5, 1986, the Stouder Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees in a special session, signed an agreement in principal to merge the hospitals operations with that of the Upper Valley Medical Center. This merger led to its closure more than a decade later.
Though the hospital has been closed for nearly 20 years, local residents still remember the healings, births and deaths that took place there.