By Trish Long
El Paso Times
I work for Providence Hospital and have met patients who recall Providence Hospital before the existing structure, which was built in1952. The old Providence was located somewhere Downtown. Do you have any info on the original Providence Hospital and also the Hotel Dieu and any other early hospitals in El Paso.
Thanks for the email, Donald.
Bob Chapman was author of this Jan 10, 1952, Times article.
"Progress, spurred on by the clamor for things that represent the latest wrinkle in modernity, has swept way another El Paso landmark.
"This time, it was the old Providence Hospital, Santa Fe Street and Upson Avenue, set up almost a half century ago by real pioneer citizens, who also played an important part in the building of this city.
"The new Providence Memorial Hospital, 2000 N. Oregon St., costing more than $3,000,000 and boasting the very last word in equipment and facilities, is the institution that has supplanted the old hospital, leaving it a sentimental relic in the memory of the comparatively few old-timers left.
"Back in those early days, as now, there was urgent need for hospital beds. So, when Dr. Michael Philip Schuster, graduate of the University of Vienna Medical School, conceived the plan of giving El Paso another hospital, citizens thought this was providential. Hence, the name Providence for the hospital.
"El Paso history and pioneers are wrapped up in this old hospital. Dr. Schuster was brought here from Vienna by the Guggenheim interests to be the El Paso Smelter doctor. Associated with him then was Dr. H.T. Safford, another pioneer physician.
"Dr. Schuster, accompanied by Mrs. Schuster, arrived here on Sept. 5, 1896. On that same day, he filed his declaration of intention to become an American citizen with George Parker, then county clerk. That was the procedure at that time. The final hearing on this was Sept. 8, 1898. Chris Aranda, chief deputy county clerk, acknowledged the certificate of citizenship for Park Pitman, then county clerk.
"A Congregational two-story church school on the present hospital site, later improved and a third story added, was the first unit of the old Providence, opened in 1902, 'away from the noises of the city and where patients could enjoy clean, fresh air.' That was about all there was here, clean, fresh air some 40 years ago.
"The Providence Hospital Association was formed to buy that first building. Dr. Schuster, principal stockholder, was president. Of the following list of other stockholders so far as could be learned, Dr. E.H. Irvin is the only person still living: Drs. G. Wehrle, Alward H. White, J. Shelton Horsley, later president of the American Medical Association; M.O. Wright, Howard Thompson, H.T. Safford, W.W. Vilas, and George H. Higgins; Albert Wilkinson, A.P. Coles, D.M. Payne, G.L. Hoyt, A. Pogue, Felix Martinez, E.M. Bray, Floyd Payne, State National Bank, H.C. Myles, British vice-council; T.H. Springer, H.P. Noake, W.W. Turney, W.H. Burges, First National Bank, H.R. Wood, Richard Keays, Fred Schaefer & Co., Frank Powers, A. Courchesne, A.B. Perkey. O.C. Irvin, Miss A. Louise Dietrich, now prominent figure in the Texas State Nurses' Association, was superintendent of the hospital.
"From 1902 until April 1, 1946, there was never a break in the Schuster operation of the hospital. When Dr. Schuster died in 1918, Mrs. Schuster took over full management. She was assisted by her daughters, Mrs. Margaret Schuster Meyer and Mrs. Regina Schuster Rabb. When their mother died in August 1946, they carried on. The doctor brothers are Frank and Stephen Schuster.
" 'I want to go back to my hospital,' Mrs. Schuster said when she was ill. Her wish was granted. She died in the hospital.
"Additions to the hospital were made in 1903, 1905 and 1910. It was developed into a 40-bed standardized hospital approved by the American College of Surgeons and American Hospital Association. The hospital was the first here to graduate Mexican nurses."
When the hospital moved to its present location, "memorial" was added to the name. The original building was condemned by the city and razed in January 1953.
The new Providence Memorial Hospital was dedicated Jan. 10, 1952.
The hospital opened 272 beds with an expansion capacity up to 350 beds. The floor plan is the shape of a St. Andrew's cross. The building is fireproof with fire doors in each corridor. The facility "is completely air conditioned. It has oxygen and telephone outlets in every room, and a radio for every pillow."
Trish Long is the El Paso Times' archivist and spends her time in the morgue, where the newspaper keeps its old clippings and photos. She shares some of this history in her blog, Tales From The Morgue.
Photo Caption: The original Providence Hospital, seen here in 1905, was at the intersection of Santa Fe Street and Upson Avenue. The new Providence Memorial Hospital, at its current location at 2000 N. Oregon, was dedicated Jan. 10, 1952. The old building was condemned and razed in January 1953.