Lewes Mason (1896 - 1918) in whose memory the new hospital building was erected in 1925.
Part 1 of letter from Marguerite Townsend, Secretary of the hospital Board to Pierre du Pont. Next page said the splendid gift would make it possible to complete urgently needed additions and alterations, heretofore impossible because all resources had to be used for maintenance.
The Chester County Hospital traces some of its historical roots back to the pandemic of 1918, known as the Spanish Flu.
When the outbreak of influenza passed ultimately from bird to pig to human, and then became a pandemic when it traveled internationally, the local community was equally affected.
One young man, Mr. Lewes A. Mason, a personal employee of Mr. Pierre S. du Pont, was among the people who contracted influenza during the 1918 pandemic. When he became ill, Hospital physicians attended to Mr. Mason at the du Pontís Longwood estate, because Mr. du Pont had been pleased with the medical attention Mr. Mason had received two years prior when he fell from a tree and injured his hip.
At the time, The Chester County Hospital was a growing institution located just a few hundred yards from its current location, established by the community to care for the community. Unfortunately, the devastating Spanish Flu claimed Mr. Masonís life, just as it had so many others across the globe. He passed away in 1918.
Appreciative of the good care the physicians from The Chester County Hospital gave to his employee and friend, Mr. du Pont offered to fund the expansion and modernization of the Hospital with a $1,000,000 gift as a lasting tribute to Mr. Mason. Mr. du Pontís personal commitment to state-of-the-art healthcare furthered the dream of those community supporters who had founded the Hospital as a 10-bed dispensary in 1892.
Pierre du Pont (with shovel) at March 20, 1924 groundbreaking. Others present were physicians and members of the Board of Managers.
Thanks to the generosity of Mr. du Pont, the Hospital broke ground at its current location in 1924, underwent major construction, and began admitting patients in September 1925.
In memoriam, a large gold seal was inlayed in the floor of the oldest part of the Hospital. It reads, "Erected in 1924 to the memory of Lewes A. Mason – 1896-1918." The seal is a symbol of the Hospitalís growth.
Mr. and Mrs. Pierre S. du Pont near the time of their wedding in 1915. Mr. du Pont (1870-1954) was the great-grandson of E. I. du Pont, founder of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. Pierre graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1890, and after other business ventures, became president of the family business in 1915. From 1919 to 1940 he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
In 1906, Mr. du Pont purchased Pierce Park near Kennett Square and created the world renowned Longwood Gardens. Throughout his lifetime he was extremely interested in improving his community. He gave generously for the benefit of public schools, provided funds for the improvement of local roads, and continually supported various civic organizations. It was through his generosity that The Chester County Hospital had an entirely new facility by 1925.
Mr. du Pont immediately established a trust fund for the Hospital to use for its expansion. Architects were consulted and plans were drawn, but the post-war recession prohibited construction. By 1923, it was decided that an entirely new hospital facility was the only suitable means of expanding and modernizing the Hospital, and the only appropriate memorial to Lewes Mason.
Crowd gathered for cornerstone laying.
Mr. and Mrs. Pierre du Pont laying the cornerstone.
The best possible hospital building was the goal, and great care was taken to achieve it. Mr. du Pont was involved in all phases of the planning, working with the architects, York & Sawyer. Members of the medical staff and the Board of Managers toured hospitals in Chicago, New York and Detroit. At Mr. du Pont's urging a hospital efficiency expert, Dr. A. S. Goldwater of New York, was consulted.
The new hospital building nearing its completion.
With Mr. du Pont's approval, land for the new hospital was purchased from the Hoopes Brothers and Thomas Nursery Company on a hill overlooking the borough of West Chester, the Hospital's present site. Ground was broken on March 20, 1924, and construction began.
A prominent feature of the newly completed Tuscan-styled building were the many loggias (open porches) on the south facade of the hospital providing fresh air treatment for patients.
Patients were transferred to the new facility on September 28, 1925. There was space for 120 beds, and the building had two large operating rooms, a men's medical and surgical ward, a women's medical and surgical ward, a maternity ward, a children's ward, and a ward for patients with contagious diseases. A room was designated to receive accident cases, as well.
The linens and patient tray services for the new hospital were provided by Mrs. du Pont, who took an active interest in the new facility. A formal celebration of the new building was held in September 1926.
Photograph sent to Mr. and Mrs. du Pont with the inscription "Alice du Pont McDonnell, born September 29, 1925, first baby born at The Chester County Hospital, named for Alice B. du Pont (Mrs. Pierre)"
Nurse Redford and baby in Hospital nursery, April 1926.
Partial list of medical cases treated 1924-1925.
The Hospital ambulance circa 1933.
A private patient room.
A view of the Hospital showing the West Wing (on left) which opened in 1931, also donated by Mr. and Mrs. du Pont, and the Nurses' Home on the east completed in 1926.
Even before the opening of the Hospital, the need for a new Nurses' Home, was apparent. Once again Mr. du Pont generously donated funds along with William M. Potts and others. Many furnishings for the home were supplied by the Women's Auxiliary. Completed in August 1926, it provided living quarters, recreation areas, and classroom and laboratory space for student nurses.
The new library and board room in the West Wing which opened in 1931. The portrait of Dr. William T. Sharpless was added later.
Mr. and Mrs. Pierre S. du Pont, donors of the new wing, examining a galvanic generator operated by Miss Eleanor Taylor.
Dr. Ulysses Grant Gifford (1862-1949) was a physician at the Hospital from 1907 to 1949 having begun his practice in 1903 as a "horse and buggy" doctor. Gifford served as Chief of Staff from 1927 to 1937, and founded the cardiology department of the Hospital, serving as Chief Cardiologist until his death.
The Hospital admitted 2,013 patients in 1929, the same year ground was broken for a new West Wing funded by Mr. du Pont.
Formally opened on May 8, 1931, the west wing featured a contagious ward on the ground floor, entirely independent of the main Hospital. It could be reached only from the outdoors. The wing also contained a new library and board room, clinics, a pharmacy, and a floor primarily devoted to physiotherapy. It was on this floor that patients were treated with various forms of physical medicine such as baths and electric treatments.
Mr. du Pont's magnanimity enabled The Chester County Hospital to continue its mission of providing quality medical care to all members of the community. He took an active interest in the Hospital until his death on April 5, 1954.
Construction of the Nurses' Home on the east side of the Hospital, 1926.
Hallway from the Hospital to the Nurses' Home.
Science laboratory for student courses in the Nurses' Home.
A student room in the Nurses' Home.
HM&L - Courtesy of the Hagley Museum and Library.
We are also grateful to the many individuals loaned or donated photographs to the Hospital Archives.