New Bedford’s St. Luke’s Hospital Wasn’t Always on Page Street
I have been to St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford many times, occasionally as a patient but mostly to visit others who were ill. I was born at St. Luke's Hospital.
Yet I never knew St. Luke's was somewhere else before Page Street.
As a child of the 1960s, it seemed a right of passage to have your tonsils removed. St. Luke's got mine – and my adenoids, too.
St. Luke's hosted me for phlebitis when I broke my ankle on my 19th birthday in a barroom brawl and removed my appendix when it threatened to burst.
Later in life, St. Luke's kept me alive after a heart attack, and most recently cared for the pain in my aging back and spine.
Like many in Greater New Bedford, I celebrated the birth of new life at St. Luke's Hospital and suffered the loss of loved ones there.
Like you, I've had an intimate relationship with St. Luke's Hospital.
So why didn't I know St. Luke's Hospital wasn't always on Page Street?
The original St. Luke's Hospital opened in 1884 at 81 Fourth Street – now Purchase Street – near downtown New Bedford. The hospital opened with just 11 beds.
A brief history of the hospital by Spinner Publications says, "Staff treated 64 patients in the first year, 31 of those for free." To defray operational costs, Anna Lombard, the hospital's founder, "held weekly collections for the hospital and a special on at Thanksgiving, establishing the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as Donation Day for community members to contribute cash or in kind."
It wasn't until January 1896 that St. Luke's Hospital moved to its current location at Page and Allen Streets.
Fairhaven-born industrialist and financier Henry Huttleston Rogers donated $40,000 in 1902 for a new hospital building and $1,000 to buy beds for the facility.
St. Luke's joined with Fall River's Charlton Memorial Hospital and Tobey Hospital in Wareham in 1996 to form Southcoast Health.