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GILLETTE STATE HOSPITAL FOR CRIPPLED CHILDREN

In 1897 the Minnesota Legislature established the State Hospital for Crippled and Deformed Children, the first hospital in the nation to provide free care to disabled children of low income parents. Renamed for its first chief of staff, Dr. Arthur Gillette, the hospital moved to this site near Lake Phalen in 1911. Over the next 35 years, nine buildings were built to meet the growing demand for services, necessitated by the polio epidemic of the 1930s and 1940s. To serve long term patients, the hospital added this educational facility in 1924; it housed a school, library, and auditorium. Named the Michael J. Dowling Memorial Hall, the building honored a benefactor who was himself disabled. The Spanish Colonial style structure was designed by Clarence H. Johnston, one of Minnesota's most prominent architects. Among the hall's distinctive features are a red tiled roof, arched doorway, marble columns, and decorative plaster relief sculptures. Due partly to the development of polio vaccines in the 1950s, Gillette Hospital's patient load began to de cline. In 1977 Gillette closed its Lake Phalen facilities and moved to new quarters in the St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center. Three years later all of the buildings except bowling Memorial Hall were demolished. Several times the building was threatened with demolition. Each time its East Side neighbors fought to save it. Finally in 1995, after sitting vacant for 18 years, bowling Memorial Hall was renovated by the Minnesota Humanities Commission for use as an office and education center. During renovation of the hall, many visitors some of whom had been patients at the hospital as children stopped by to see the work testimony to the building's deep emotional ties to the community. 1997

987 Ivy Avenue East near Phalen Park in St. Paul Minnesota

 

 

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