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Do You Remember

Reverend Washington Rodman had a knack for creating institutions to help his fellow man.  Among the first was Grace Episcopal Church and that was on June 28, 1847.  Other service oriented facilities followed and among them was the Home for Incurables which he incorporated on April 6, 1866 in the Jacob Lorillard Mansion in West Farms. One interesting stipulation for admittance was that the patient not be insane.  He sought to make the last days of the incurable as comfortable and pain-free as possible.   To understand the significance of this accomplishment, one must realize that this was the first hospital for chronic incurable diseases in the United States and only the second in the entire world.  From the very beginning, it was under the care of the Protestant Episcopal Church who monitored its progress and development. 

The hospital soon outgrew its small quarters in the mansion and Catherine Lorillard Wolfe generously donated ten acres of land off today’s Third Avenue between 181st and 184th Streets where a new facility was soon erected.  Miss Wolfe was among the richest women in America and maintained a beautiful estate in Throggs Neck off the east side of today’s East Tremont Avenue between Randall and Schley Avenues. The cornerstone to the new hospital was laid on June 11, 1873 by Right Reverend Horatio Potter, D. D. and the new facility was capable of caring for 280 patients.   There was an annual Board of Managers meeting in West Farms the following day, so numerous clergymen were in attendance including Rev. W. T. Wilson of King’s Bridge and Rev. T. Gallaudet, Rev. H. Potter along with Bishop Potter, all of whom participated in the ceremony.  

The hospital was enlarged in 1904 to care for over 300 patients, approximately one third of which were charity cases.  The new facility had a chapel, library, sunlight parlor, billiard room and even a smoking room.  Interestingly, approximated two percent of the inmates were cured while some others were discharged to their family’s care.  The hospital has since become known as St. Barnabas and still serves the area.  It is a 461-bed non-sectarian facility and a level 1 trauma center. 

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