Saturday, July 14, 2018 Nancy L. Webster

On July 1, 1918, the Highland Park Hospital opened its doors.  One-thousand visitors gathered to celebrate this community effort marking its centennial today. 

Ravinia opera stars contralto Molly Wilson, mezzo-soprano Irene Pavlovska and baritone Louis Kriedler  performed at the dedication along with violinist George Jones.  In recognition of the French National holiday and the fact that so many local young men were in France with the American Expeditionary Forces fighting the German Empire, Kriedler sang the Marseillaise and French-Canadian Pavlovska sang the American anthem. 

Discussions regarding a community hospital began the previous decade.  Notably, in 1907, Albert C. Frost, president of the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric Railway Company and founder of Ravinia Park, asserted the need for a Community hospital. He offered to donate land to situate a health center.  However, both the Railway and Park had changed hands more than once before the 1918 hospital opening. 

Several 1915 meetings and one significant donation launched the successful Highland Park Hospital effort.  The formation of the Highland Park Hosptial Association created a subscription system whereas citizens in Deerfield Township (renamed Moraine Township in 1998) and elsewhere purchased shares that included future hospital services. 

An initial donation drove this effort.  Walter C. Hately donated $10,000.00* for the care of women and children in honor of his daughter Marie McIlvaine, who died in April 1915 at the age of 36.  Chicago Board of Trade member Hately´s philanthropy also included the Florence Maybrick club and relief for the Island of Martinique after the unrivaled 1902 Mount Pelée volcanic eruption.  Hately died in 1917 before the Hospital project completion.  The Health Care Foundation of Highland Park continues this effort in 2018. 

By 1916, the Highland Park Hospital Association´s efforts moved at full speed.  Captains and their teams moved block-to-block, soliciting subscriptions – visiting ¨neighbors as soldiers.¨  Supported by Highland Park Mayor Samuel Hastings, various civic groups and a public relations specialist, the Association team enjoined the community to "Come and demonstrate your civic pride."  (Those opposed to the Hospital questioned both the need for such a facility and the ability to attract highly-skilled professionals to such a remote outpost.) 

This multi-year, multi-agency community effort succeeded.   Ground was broken for a new community hospital under the supervision of architect Roye PIngrey in August 1917. 

The new Hospital served 4 patients during its Bastille Day dedication, including 2 women injured in automobile accident on Green Bay Road in Ravinia. 

By the end of its first year, the hospital´s first annual report listed an impressive array of procedures performed and a need for an expansion. 


*Buying power in 2018: $244,649.51, Bureau of Labor Statistics.