Abandoned hospital in Ohio

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio
Date added: April 17, 2023 Categories: Ohio Hospital
Hospital, rear elevation, looking northerly (1997)

Lucas County, like all other counties in Ohio, was required by law, under the Ohio Poor House Act of 1816 (as amended), to provide for the welfare of its poor, indigent, and infirm citizens. Following the transfer of these responsibilities from individual townships to the counties in 1853, the erection of County Homes and Infirmaries burgeoned throughout Ohio. Since that time, Lucas County has maintained a presence on the property at the southeast corner of the intersection of Arlington and Detroit Avenues, first as the County Farm, followed shortly by the County Home, Infirmary, and "Insane Asylum". The County Home and Infirmary were established on the grounds of the County Farm as early as 1861. In 1869, a separate infirmary was built as an annex to the County Home, and in 1870 a County Insane Asylum was erected, further providing for specialized care of county residents. In 1872, the state added a detached unit for the care of mentally ill people, named the Northwestern Insane Asylum, and began accepting patients from throughout northwest Ohio. (Mentally ill residents were transferred to the revolutionary new Toledo State Hospital, the first in the nation built exclusively on the "Cottage Plan," when it opened directly across Detroit Avenue in 1888; the Northwestern Insane Asylum building was demolished at some point thereafter and is not extant in 1929 when the Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home are begun.)

An active county presence at this location continued into the twentieth century, and consistent with the public welfare mission of this site, the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurse's Home logically also were erected here... This was at a time when the responsibility of providing for the "public welfare" rested largely with state and local entities, before the massive interventions of federal assistance that were spawned by the Great Depression. The huge influx of people who settled in Toledo between 1910 and 1930, when the population grew by over 122,000, strained the local public welfare system and precipitated the need fora larger, more modern public infirmary/hospital and the school to train its nursing staff. Consequently, the county again rose to meet the needs of its citizens and the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurse's Home began service to the poor and indigent adults and children of the city and county in May, 1931. At that time twenty-six structures yet existed at this site as part of the original Lucas County Infirmary complex.

Originally known as the Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, construction began in January 1930; the contractors were Boyjohn & Barr, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio. Lucas County voters had approved a $950,000 Bond Issue to finance the erection of the hospital and nurse's residence in 1928. When it opened, the hospital contained 260 beds and offered emergency, general medicine, surgery, obstetrics, and maternity and child care services. Central nurse stations, a children's floor (fifth), a surgery amphitheater for teaching, and the overall modernity of the facility reportedly allowed it to serve as a model for other institutions.

Architecturally, the hospital was designed in a restrained Georgian Revival style replete with a symmetrical facade amplified by the use of stone pilasters, arched windows with keystones, a dentilled cornice, and a stone balustrade surmounting the first roof level. The interior was much simpler and functional with wood paneling and plaster ceiling medallions in the lobby and board room serving as the primary architectural ornament. The only other comparable public building from this period in this style in Toledo is the Police and Fire Alarm Building on Erie Street in downtown Toledo erected in the 1920s.

Research and clinical advances emphasized cancer studies, surgical improvements, intensive care, hypothermia therapy, and hospital infection control. Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital was regularly at the forefront of modern health care and social service planning, establishing a social work office in 1935 and fostering use of the revolutionary "iron lung" by the late 1930's. Alcohol and venereal disease clinics and wards were organized in 1945. Doctors from the area donated their services at the hospital for several hours each week, inducing positive reactions from the medical profession: "the hospital is the meeting ground for all the medical minds in the community" (Toledo Blade, 1958).

Designed to complement the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital by the architects, the Nurse's Home features a similar exterior Georgian Revival ornamentation, but displays an abundance of Tudor Revival details on the first-floor interior, including luxuriant use of paneled woodwork in the lounge/board room, library, and foyer, an elaborately carved stone fireplace in the lounge/board room, and a variety of ornamental plasterwork moldings and medallions in the foyer and lounge/board room.

The Nurses' Home was an outgrowth of the Lucas County Training School which had been founded in 1905, relocating to the County Infirmary site in 1931 with the hospital. Originally seventy nurses lived at the home, which included lounge/living, music, reception, and tea rooms and a library on the first floor, as well as ground floor classrooms and laboratories, with living quarters on the second and third floors. Nurses worked at the adjacent hospital, utilizing the in-service training opportunities afforded by the teaching nature of the hospital. Other schools also sent students to this three-year nurse's training program, thereby broadening the influence and reputation of the nursing program.

Important milestones in the school's history include the fact that in 1956, the nursing school was the first Toledo nursing program to admit white and black male students, and shortly after, the first to admit married students. Passage of a levy in 1963 enabled the Nurse's Home to expand with a $480,000 addition that nearly doubled the size of the Nurse's Home and increased the school's enrollment by sixty individuals.

In November 1944 the name of the hospital was changed to Maumee Valley Hospital to reflect the larger area then being served by the hospital and the creation of a separate Board of Trustees. A Wider geographic service area was necessitated by the need to broaden the economic base to avert possible closure brought on by management and financial problems which beset the facility in the late 1930s and early 1940s, doubtlessly in response to the severe impact of the national depression. in Toledo and Lucas County, where upwards of 50,000 people were receiving public assistance. However, by 1944 the hospital, bolstered by better management and less unemployment, had become self-supporting and had begun accepting private patients.

Several mid-century hospital developments are worth mention, including the establishment of a School of Medical Technology for physicians begun in 1948 and pioneering utilization of the "open-heart" surgery technique in the 1950s. Toledo's only electro-encephalograph (EEG) equipment and blood vessel bank also were housed at the hospital. The state's first "microsurgery" reportedly was performed at the hospital in 1961. In 1963 the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital installed the earliest "decompression chamber" in the area (one of only ten in the United States). Advances likewise continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s as Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital installed Toledo's third coronary care unit in 1968 and opened the first "walk-in" pediatric clinic in the city in 1971. Not surprisingly the hospital was regarded as an important center for research and post-graduate teaching which included surgery, internal medicine, general practice, obstetrics and gynecology, clinical and anatomical pathology, x-ray technology, and nursing. Physical improvements accompanied these medical developments, notably from 1960-64 in response to a successful levy campaign, when a major renewal of the entire structure was undertaken. A one story addition connecting the rear wings was completed in 1964 which provided a new lobby, admitting and business areas, gift shop, dining room, and patient service areas.

In December 1970 the entire Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital was leased to the new Medical College of Ohio at Toledo (MCO) on a twenty-year lease. In 1972 MCO converted ward areas on the second and third floors to private rooms in order to ease declining patient numbers. Later in 1972 however, the second floor was closed entirely, inpatient maternity services were ended, 150 employees were laid off, and a general rearrangement of services wus undertaken. MCO utilized the hospital as its Leuching Hospital until 1979 when all patients were moved to the Medical College's newly erected teaching hospital is located a mile west of Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital. Unspecified problems with patient populations, safety, age of physical plant, and accreditation issues had plagued the hospital during the 1970s, and after the Medical College canceled its lease in 1980, the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital was vacated and stood unused and subject to periodic vandalism and physical degradation.

In 1980 plans were announced to redevelop what had become known as the MCO's "east campus", including the former Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurse's Home, as a senior citizens complex. In 1980 a consultant and citizens advisory committee recommended to the county that the former hospital was too outdated to be readily reused and that the site should be redeveloped as an elderly housing complex. By 1984 however, due to the substantial nature of the hospital building, plans emerged to convert the former hospital. into a seventy-unit senior citizens housing complex rather than pursue demolition. This strategy ultimately failed however, and the building has stood vacant since that time.

Plans currently are being formulated by MV-397 Limited Partnership of Detroit to convert the former hospital into a senior citizen housing complex of approximately ninety-five units; the County transferred ownership of the hospital to the MV-97 Limited Partnership in April 1997.

The Nurse's Home also fell victim to rising costs, decreasing enrollment, and competition and was closed in August 1972, its programs being incorporated into existing university and technical college offerings. Approximately 850 students had graduated from the school since its predecessor opened in 1905. The 1980 report encouraged the reuse of the Nurse's Home, and accordingly in February 1981 a state grant was received to establish a senior citizens administrative services office in the Nurse's Home and the structure was sensitively renovated.

The significant interior spaces on the first floor were largely restored. In the spring of 1984, the Area Office on Aging opened its offices in the building and continues to occupy the building. Lucas County continues its ownership of the building, though it is managed by the Area Office on Aging under the administration of Billie Sewell Johnson, its Executive Director.

The architects of both the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurse's Home, the firm of Stophlet & Stophlet of Toledo, were known for their institutional commissions, but remained a small family (two brothers) firm. Prominent among their ten known works are the now demolished Flower Hospital in Toledo that had been erected in stages beginning in 1922, two schools, three churches, and the Toledo Zoo's famed Aviary and Carnivora Buildings. The earliest known commission, a warehouse, was built in 1915; their last recorded undertaking was the residence for Manfred Stophlet, one of the principals, in 1945. The bulk of their work appears to have been executed in the 1920s and 1930s, and by 1948 the firm had been dissolved.

Building Description

The Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurse's Home are set at the northern edge of a large tract of land that has been used for public welfare since the mid-nineteenth century. The terrain is flat, part of the Lake Plains topography. that defines much of Northwest Ohio. The entire site is circumscribed by major streets on the north (Arlington Avenue) and west (Detroit Avenue/US 24), residential neighborhoods on the north, south, and east, and the Norfolk-Southern rail line to the southeast. A curving roadway serves as a main access and leads from Arlington Avenue across the facades of both buildings arcing westward to the Nurse's Home where it terminates in a cul-de-sac/parking area. This roadway alignment is a surviving remnant of the original site design, as shown on Map # 1 (Alternate V Site Plan); it originally continued around both buildings connecting them to the remainder of the infirmary site to the south and east, but now only provides access to and from Arlington Avenue. Newer parking lots now adjoin the rear of both buildings. The Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurse's Home face in a northerly direction, overlooking a variety of mature deciduous and evergreen trees that are scattered across a spacious lawn separating them from Arlington Avenue. Some of the older spruce trees may date to the 1929-31 landscape design, but do not appear on the original site plan. Paired cement walks leading to the hospital's main entrance also appear in the 1929-31 site plan, but the current pair of walks, which are in very poor condition, cannot be documented as original, though their configuration aligns with those of the original design. None of the shrubs or road railings shown in the vintage views remain, and no other landscape features are known to have existed on the site.

To the immediate east and rear (south) of these buildings, stood the original Lucas County Poor Farm, followed by the Lucas County Home and Infirmary. Evolving over several decades, at the time of the completion of the hospital and Nurses's Home in 1931 the site yet included twenty-six structures clustered within the northern segment of the parcel, serving both agricultural and medical functions. Included were a spacious barn, chicken and hog houses, a corn-crib, the laundry/carpenter shop, pump house, power plant, tool shed, and several storage structures; also an Administration Building, the 1898 hospital, a bakery, a dormitory and men's ward, nurse's living quarters, the kitchen/dining building, and five Tuberculosis-related facilities, one of which was a large Tuberculosis Clinic for children.

Over the course of the next fifty years, the site changed dramatically in that most of the major pre-1931 structures were demolished. In 1980, plans were announced to redevelop what had become known as the Medical College of Ohio's "east campus", including the former Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurses' Home, as a senior citizens complex. A report, entitled "Future Use Plan" (April 1980), prepared for the County in advance of the proposed redevelopment, shows only the former nurse's living quarters and kitchen-dining building and the Tuberculosis Hospital as remaining on the infirmary grounds. This report also indicates that a few new buildings had been added to the site following completion of the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurse's Home. These included an interconnected series of clinics and long-term care facilities known generally as the County Home/Clinics (1938/ c.1955) and the Douglass Building (1969) all at the northeastern border of the property; a clinical laboratory (1947); the Roche Tuberculosis Hospital (1935-37); and laboratory and Administrative Services buildings (both 1970) that were attached to either end of the Roche Hospital.

At the present time, in addition to the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurses's Home, only the former clinics (now vacant), the Douglass Building (Lucas County Coroner), and the Administrative Services Building, now Lucas County Senior Center, mentioned in the 1980 report remain, the others having been demolished in response to the 1980 report. The portion of the site directly behind the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital, has been substantially regraded and altered. New facilities erected since 1980 now surround the hospital and Nurse's Home and include Arlington by the Lake (ec. 1984), senior citizen's residential apartments, and a sprawling elderly care facility known as Waterford Commons (1970-1990), which also includes the former Administrative Services building. These buildings lie directly east and south of the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital respectively, and are outside the boundaries of the nomination. At the far southern portion of the Site that originally served as open cultivation and grazing land for the County Farm is a residential complex of fourteen units built by the state in the 1980s for handicapped children/teens and known as the Northwest Ohio Developmental Center. Directly east is Lare Lane School for handicapped children that was completed in the 1950s by the Lucas County Board of Mental Retardation; directly across the street to the west is the bus terminal for the board that serves the county.

The two remaining buildings that have bridged the gap between the Infirmary era and the present are the Lucas County/Maumee Valley Hospital and Nurse's Home. These classically detailed buildings are executed in the Georgian phase of the American Colonial and Tudor (interior) Revival Styles, and were designed by the Toledo architectural firm of Stophlet & Stophlet.

The hospital is an imposing, five-story concrete and steel structure whose facade, faced in a brick and stone veneer, overlooks a residential neighborhood across Arlington Avenue. It stands immediately east of the former Nurse's Home, and was erected at the same time. The hospital edifice is 384 feet in length and 120 feet wide, including two wings that project from the main block at the rear of the building. The hospital features a pavilion-like facade with two recessed sections on either side of the moderately protruding central section. The entire elevated ground floor is faced with Indiana limestone, as is the surface flanking the elevated central entrance, portions of which now are painted white. The raised main entrance is reached via a wide stone stair the raised sides of which are painted stone as well.

The central entry door is surrounded by classically styled stonework topped by a bracketed pediment; the original bronze double doors have been replaced by a single, solid metal door. Rising above the main entry, limestone pilasters soar between window bays, culminating in a stone, dentiled cornice between the fourth and fifth floors. Rusticated pilasters, ascend above the cornice, dividing the fifth-story fenestration and are topped by a smaller stone cornice below a stone balustrade. Second-story facade windows are blind round arches with limestone keystones. Windows originally were double-hung, one over one sash, though many have been broken or are boarded over. The recessed wings are five stories immediately adjacent to the central pavilion, and four stories at either end. Stone cornices divide the first and second floors and define the roofline at all levels. Stone corner pilasters spring from the ground floor stone facing at each corner of the structure.

The rear elevation of the hospital displays two four-story wings that extend from the center section, leaving an open void between the two wings. Each wing exhibits an elevated stone-faced ground floor as per the main structure. In 1964 a brick, steel, and glass addition that enclosed the entire area between the Wings at the level of the first floor was constructed. A smaller, original three-story wing that served as the emergency rooms and housed a two-story "operating theater" features a one-story emergency vehicle porte cochere.

The entire structure is surmounted by a single-story, brick headhouse that accommodates the mechanical and elevator equipment. Set back from the fifth-floor roofline, it is located in the center of the structure and is topped by a plain stone cornice that defines its roofline.

The interior is extremely functional and utilitarian in design and the central hall floor plan dominates the space. Long corridors, running laterally, serve as principal axes on every floor, and lead to the former patient rooms, offices, nursing stations, and medical areas. Major renovations occurred throughout' the 1950s and 1960s, including the addition of an outpatient clinic in 1958. In response to a successful levy campaign, an overall renewal and spatial rearrangement of the entire structure was undertaken in 1960-62. The one-story addition, connecting the rear Wings was completed in 1964, providing a new lobby, admitting and business areas, gift shop, dining room, and medical service areas. The original lobby then was divided into smaller spaces accommodating dressing rooms and storage areas. In 1972 second and third-floor wards were converted to private rooms.

Original architectural elements that yet can be found.in the structure include plaster walls and ceilings, though most ceilings are obscured by dropped acoustical panels. Terrazzo Floors are visible throughout the structure. Stairwells are functional and feature glazed brick walls, slate floors/treads, and metal railings. There appears to have been little or no use of window, door, or floor moldings in the structure, as both plaster and terrazzo wrap around/up the intersections of wall/window/door and floor/wall surfaces. None of the original doors remain.

All decoration was concentrated in the original lobby and board room on the first floor, where remnants of the birch-paneled walls can be seen. Plaster medallions and some elements of classically-inspired cornices also remain on the lobby and boardroom ceilings. The operating theater space remains, although partitions have been added in the actual operating floor. This space retains its open two story configuration in the observation area.

After the hospital closed in 1980 the interior was vandalized and cannibalized, and serious water damage occurred due to broken windows and failing roof surfaces. The county however recently has put an entire new rubberized roof on the structure and re-boarded all lower-level window and door openings in hopes of attracting redevelopment. The renovation concept currently being proposed would reuse the entire building as senior citizen housing. Their plan calls for removing many aspects of later renovations and remodelings, and revealing intact original surfaces where possible, though as noted earlier, the interior clearly reflects its functional nature as it has from its origin.

The three-story Nurse's Home is likewise an imposing brick-faced, concrete and steel structure with limestone details. It overlooks the busy intersection of Detroit and Arlington Avenues. Originally 131 feet by 46 feet in size, the Nurse's Home features a limestone-faced, elevated ground floor topped by a stone water table. The brick walls are generally unrelieved above the ground floor. A seven-bay central section juts out slightly from the facade, set off by quoined corners. The first-floor facade and side windows are round arched with stone keystones, while the second and third-floor facade fenestration features splayed stone lintels with keystones. The entire structure is flanked by limestone pilasters and a stone cornice which is topped by a wrought iron balcony. Above the central entrance, a balconied window also is surrounded by a stone enframement headed by a segmental cornice supported by scrolled consoles. Quoined corners delineate the limits of the facade.

The rear elevation is highlighted by a porch that extends from the central section. The porch is open, level with the base of the first floor, and is surrounded by a paneled stone deck. Semi-circular stone stairs, at either end of the porch, sweep up to the porch and are lined with curving wrought-iron railings. A pair of double door entries open onto the porch and, along with a centrally-places blind brick panel, are topped by round arches. All other rear elevation openings are windows, flat-topped, with stone keystones. The east elevation is concealed by a 1965 addition to the Nurse's Home, whereas the west elevation faces Detroit Avenue and features equally spaced original fenestration.

The 1965 addition is sympathetic in size, scale, mass, materials, color, and workmanship to the original Nurse's Home, though it is clearly a newer extension designed with reference to the International Style. It also is three stories in height, and constructed of red brick with stone facing on the ground floor. Yet the windows are more typically International Style in Flavor, being grouped in ribbon form separated by brick piers. A solid brick parapet defines the roof/wall intersection. As in the original Nurse's Home, limestone serves as a decorative element across the exterior elevations. An above-ground suspended walkway connecting the 1965 addition to the hospital was erected at that time as well, but has since been completely removed.

The interior features long centrally placed hallways leading to various offices and work stations, converted from former living areas. The first floor has several significant interiors including a former reception/board room and a library. The former reception room immediately adjacent to the lobby, is completely lined with cherry paneling and is known as the Windsor Drawing Room. Double doors, both solid and glazed, pierce every wall. A fine Elizabethan-style stone fireplace with brick herringbone fire wall is surrounded by heavily carved woodwork and panels, with floral, linenfold, and grotesque motifs. The ceiling, plastered in ornamental relief of geometric patterns typical in Elizabethan Revival manor homes, is slightly vaulted. At the western end of the first floor is the former library. Also paneled in cherry wood, the room features bookshelves and an ornamental plaster ceiling in an English geometric plan. The vestibule also is richly appointed in paneled wood from floor to ceiling. The foyer ceiling features geometric plasterwork while the hall displays several floral medallions that serve as bases for lighting fixtures.

The remainder of the interior of the original section is fairly plain architecturally, offering fully plastered walls and ceilings and terrazzo floors, now generally covered with carpeting, throughout the hallways and former living areas turned office space. The restrooms retain their terrazzo floors as well as some original marble stalls. The stairways display plaster walls, slate treads and landings, and simple metal banisters/newels topped by an oak rail. The 1965 addition reveals the same central floor plan and space arrangement, but lacks the terrazzo flooring and plastered ceilings. The interior is in excellent condition, in dramatic contrast to the ruinous condition of the hospital.

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Rear elevations of hospital and Nurse's Home from Garden Lake Blvd., looking northerly (1997)
Rear elevations of hospital and Nurse's Home from Garden Lake Blvd., looking northerly (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Hospital facade, looking southeast (1997)
Hospital facade, looking southeast (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Hospital main entrance detail, looking south (1997)
Hospital main entrance detail, looking south (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Hospital, upper facade over main entry, looking south (1997)
Hospital, upper facade over main entry, looking south (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Hospital facade detail, looking east from western end of facade (1997)
Hospital facade detail, looking east from western end of facade (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Hospital, rear elevation, looking northerly (1997)
Hospital, rear elevation, looking northerly (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Hospital, fifth floor roof showing balustrade, looking northwest toward downtown Toledo (in distance) (1997)
Hospital, fifth floor roof showing balustrade, looking northwest toward downtown Toledo (in distance) (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio View from hospital roof overlooking site and Senior Citizen Center, looking south (1997)
View from hospital roof overlooking site and Senior Citizen Center, looking south (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Hospital lobby detail showing remains of paneling, looking west (1997)
Hospital lobby detail showing remains of paneling, looking west (1997)

Lucas County Hospital and Nurse's Home, Toledo Ohio Hospital, ceiling medallion found in lobby and board room (1997)
Hospital, ceiling medallion found in lobby and board room (1997)