HI Mailbag: St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild

Written by on April 5, 2016 in Mailbag - No comments
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Reader’s Question:

My daughter-in-law recently became a member of St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild. Could you provide some history of the organization and its activities? ~ Carol C., Carmel    

HI’s Answer:

St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild is an Indianapolis area volunteer organization that is now into its second century of supporting the city’s oldest hospital. The guild was founded in 1907 by a handful of young women who were members of  St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. At that time, St. Paul’s was located downtown on the southeast corner of West New York Street and North Illinois Street. Today, St. Paul’s is located just north of Kessler Boulevard, at 6050 North Meridian Street.

Saint Margaret's Hospital Guild was founded in 1908 by women who attended Saint Paul's Episcopal Church (Wm. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of Indiana Historical Society)

St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild was founded by a group of young women who were members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church       (Wm. H. Bass Photo Company Collection courtesy of Indiana Historical Society)

As the winter holiday season was unfolding, St. Paul’s rector, the Reverend Doctor Lewis Brown (1855-1939), preached about the rewards of selfless acts of kindness towards those who were less fortunate. He asked the women to accompany him on his visits to local hospitals on Christmas day. The women were so inspired by their experience that they proceeded to reach out to their friends to join them in forming an organization that would provide ongoing care to under-served patients. Although the guild’s meetings were held at St. Paul’s Church or in St. Paul’s members’ homes in the early years, the group soon expanded beyond the parish and became a city-wide, nonsectarian association.

1908 newspaper article reports on an early St. Margaret's Hospital Guild activity  (courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

A 1908 newspaper article reported on an early St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild activity  (courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

The focus of St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild was to brighten the lives of patients at City Hospital and at Eleanor Hospital for Sick Children. The guild chose the name “St. Margaret’s” in honor of Queen Margaret of Scotland (1045-1093). An English princess from the House of Wessex, Margaret became queen when she married Scotland’s King Malcolm III. She could read, which was unusual for a woman in the Middle Ages. Her wisdom and holiness helped her husband to be a better ruler, as she influenced him to work out disputes rather than go to war. Despite her wealth and position, Margaret performed many charitable acts during her lifetime. For her sense of justice and her efforts to improve the conditions of the poor, she was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1250.  Besides being the patron saint of Scotland, Margaret is also the patron saint of learning, children, widows, and large families.

St. Margaret of Scotland, Patron Saint of Scotland, learning, children, widows, and large families    (artist's rendering courtesy of alchetron.com)

Saint Margaret, Patron Saint of Scotland,  learning, children, widows, and large families (artist’s rendering courtesy of alchetron.com)

City Hospital was the first hospital in Indianapolis open to the general public. Completed in 1859, it remained the only hospital until St. Vincent Hospital was built in 1881, Deaconess Hospital in 1895, and Methodist Hospital in 1908. With the establishment of privately owned hospitals, City Hospital became the only facility available to low-income and indigent citizens. Located at what was then 1000 West Coe Street, City Hospital was in the same general vicinity as later building structures of the same institution. Name changes over the years included Indianapolis City Hospital, Marion County General Hospital, Wishard Memorial Hospital, and Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital. An interesting coincidence is that before the street the hospital faced was renamed Coe, it was called Margaret (see map below).

1898 Sanborn map shows the location of City Hospital at 1000 West Coe Street, coincidentally once named Margaret Street    (Map courtesy of  IUPUI Digital Archives)                            DOUBLE CLICK TO ENLARGE

1898 Sanborn map shows the location of City Hospital at 1000 West Coe Street, coincidentally once named Margaret Street (Map courtesy of IUPUI Digital Archives)                                     DOUBLE CLICK TO ENLARGE

In 1908, the address of City Hospital was known as 1000 West Coe Street, near Fall Creek Boulevard and Locke Street      (Wm. H. Bass Photo Company Collection, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

At the time of this 1908 photo, the address of City Hospital was 1000 West Coe Street, a street that no longer exists today  (Wm. H. Bass Photo Company Collection, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society)

Eleanor Hospital for Children was located at 1806 North Capitol Avenue during its relatively short existence. It was founded in 1895 with funds provided by Colonel Eli Lilly, to honor the memory of his daughter Eleanor, who had died of diphtheria at age 14. The institution was affiliated with City Hospital, but it was housed in the former residence of Walter Q. Gresham (1832-1895). Gresham and his wife sold their home to Colonel Lilly after President Grover Cleveland appointed Gresham to be his Secretary of State. The Greshams then moved to Washington, D.C., and Lilly donated the home to the Flower Mission, another charitable organization serving City Hospital. Eleanor Hospital for Children was the only pediatric hospital in Indianapolis at that time. It closed in 1909, when a children’s unit was opened at City Hospital. Thus were the two areas of underserved patients St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild had pledged to serve combined at one location. More than one-hundred years later, the guild has never wavered from its original mission to serve the institution that is now Eskenazi.

1898 Sanborn map of Eleanor Hospital for Children at 1806 North Capitol Avenue  (courtesy of IUPUI Digital Archives)  CLICK TO ENLARGE

1898 Sanborn map shows the Flower Mission Eleanor Hospital for Children located at 1806 North Capitol Avenue (courtesy of IUPUI Digital Archives)                             DOUBLE CLICK TO ENLARGE

Eleanor Hospital for Children was located at 1802 N. Capitol Avenue from 1895 to 1909 (clipping courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

The Flower Mission Eleanor Hospital for Children was located at 1806 North Capitol Avenue from 1895 until 1909   (November 20, 1908 clipping courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

By 1910, St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild members were spreading cheer at City Hospital’s new children’s unit.

June 3, 1910 newspaper clipping from The Indianapolis Star

June 3, 1910 newspaper clipping from The Indianapolis Star after City Hospital opened a children’s unit   

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October 9, 1909 Indianapolis News clipping

October 9, 1909 Indianapolis News clipping

Over the years, the guild has mounted many different initiatives to aid in the healing of hospital patients.  In 1914, for example, it helped brighten the hospital environment by raising the money to hire local artists to decorate the walls with their paintings and murals. Among them were the now well-known artists William Forsyth, Carl Graf, Otto Stark, Wayman Adams, Clifton Wheeler, J. Otis Adams, and T. C. Steele.

April 5, 1914 announcement of art project at City Hospital in The Indianapolis Star

April 5, 1914 announcement of art project at City Hospital in The Indianapolis Star

April 9, 1933 Indianapolis Star article about St. Margaret's Hospital Guild

April 9, 1933 Indianapolis Star article about St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild                             DOUBLE CLICK TO ENLARGE

To raise funds, the guild has implemented a wide variety of projects over the years. In the 1930s, one of them was a lending library, which was located at 415 East 34th Street, across the street from Tabernacle Presbyterian Church. Other events have included sponsoring a ballet, a lecture series, a vintage automobile show, musical programs, charity balls, and a movie premiere.

One of the ways St. Margaret's Hospital Guild raised money was with its lending library  (November 11, 1925 Indianapolis Star)

One of the ways St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild raised money to donate to City Hospital was with its lending library  (November 11, 1925 The Indianapolis Star)

In 1941, St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild was granted 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service. Obtaining the designation of a nonprofit organization allowed the guild to receive contributions from individual donors who want their contributions to be tax-deductible.  It also qualified the guild for grants from foundations, corporations, trusts, and government entities that are only available to not-for-profit groups.

November 21, 1951 Indianapolis Star clipping

November 21, 1951 Indianapolis Star clipping

Postcard of Marion County General Hospital

Postcard of Marion County General Hospital      (date unknown)

June 23, 1955 Indianapolis Star article

June 23, 1955 Indianapolis Star article

In November of 1955, St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild received a portion of the ticket sales from a Liberace concert. Liberace also gave a private concert in the home of guild member Helen Gerald, at which he autographed the Gerald family’s piano.

Liberace and his brother George after a concert to benefit St. Margaret's Hospital Guild (November 15, 1955 Indianapolis Star)

Entertainer Liberace signing autographs after a concert in Indianapolis to benefit St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild                       (November 15, 1955 Indianapolis Star)

In February of 1958, St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild received a portion of the ticket sales from the premiere of the movie, “Raintree County.”  The film was based on the novel of the same name by Bloomington, Indiana author Ross Lockridge Jr. (1914-1948).

February 13, 1958 Indianapolis Star clipping reported a movie screening to raise funds for St. Margaret's Hospital Guild

February 13, 1958 Indianapolis Star clipping reported a movie screening to raise funds for St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild

Although the funds raised by the guild grew steadily, it became increasingly challenging for the guild to conceive of new ways to raise funds for the hospital, year after year after year.  In 1960, an idea for raising funds turned out to serve the guild for many years to come.  A new guild member, Dessie Partenheimer Koch, who had recently moved to Indianapolis from the San Francisco area, related the details of a fundraising event in which she had participated in California. During the three years prior to her moving to Indianapolis, the museum guild to which she belonged had found empty mansions, fixed them up, and charged admission for the public to view them. The members of St. Margaret’s enthusiastically embraced this concept, and the first Decorators’ Show House and Gardens debuted in 1962. Now in its 55th year, the Decorators’ Show House and Gardens has become the guild’s signature event.  It is the longest-running tour of its kind in the country.

March 1, 1962 Indianapolis Star article about the first Decorators Show House

March 1, 1962 Indianapolis Star article about the first Decorators Show House

March 22, 1970 Indianapolis Star clipping

March 22, 1970 Indianapolis Star clipping

The Decorators’ Show House and Gardens provides an opportunity for the public to tour a large, often historic, home that they might not otherwise be able to view.  It also allows tour goers to get innovative ideas for decorating their own residences. In addition, the project provides the guild’s 85 active members and 275 life members lifelong friendships and meaningful volunteer work.

October 15, 1980 Indianapolis Star

October 15, 1980 The Indianapolis Star

February 25, 1981 newspaper clipping before the designers worked their magic  (courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

February 25, 1981 newspaper clipping before the designers worked their magic (courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

One of the most popular Decorators' Show Houses was the 2006 home (courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

One of the most popular Decorators’ Show Houses in recent years was the 2006 project on W. 116th Street    (courtesy of The Indianapolis Star)

From the beginning, the mission of the organization has been to support the city’s oldest hospital. Since its founding 109 years ago, St. Margaret’ Hospital Guild has donated more than $12,000,000 to the hospital that is now known as Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital.

Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital is located at 720 Eskenazi Avenue             (photo courtesy of hok.com)

Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital is located at 720 Eskenazi Avenue              (photo courtesy of hok.com)

This year’s Decorators’ Show House and Gardens is located at 5260 North Meridian Street. The property is located within the boundaries of two highly respected neighborhood associations, Butler-Tarkington and North Meridian Street Historic District. Construction of the home began in 1929 by architect-builder Henry L. Simons (1872-1954) and was completed in 1930.  Simons built hundreds of impressive houses during his career. The French provincial style residence has been home to the families of eight owners over its 86 years of existence.  Past homeowners include Robert and Pearl Sebel MacGill, William and Marie Eisenlohr Wemmer, Gilbert and Helen Trusler Gerald, Murray and Loretta Dulberger, John and Lynn Clippinger Neff, Lynn Clippinger Fechtman, J. D. and Shirley Noel, and Anthony and Marla Smith.

Built in 1929, the residence at 5260 North Meridian Street is the location of the 2016 Decorators' Show House and Gardens   (2016 photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)                       CLICK TO ENLARGE

Built in 1929, the residence at 5260 North Meridian Street is the location of the 2016 Decorators’ Show House and Gardens  (2016 photo by Sharon Butsch Freeland)                          CLICK TO ENLARGE

The Decorators’ Show House and Gardens begins its 16-day run on Saturday, April 23rd. It ends on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8th. If you would like to purchase a ticket to this year’s show house, or attend one of the special events associated with the show house, or make a tax-deductible donation to a worthy cause, or join this hardworking organization of awesome women to organize next year’s show house, you can find pages that discuss all of these topics on the St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild website by clicking here.

Readers who are acquainted with the work of St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild or who have attended a Decorators’ Show House in the past are encouraged to leave a comment below.

 

 

If you have a question about Indianapolis history, please send it to historicindianapolis(at)yahoo(dot)com, with “HI Mailbag” in the subject line.  We will do our best to answer it.  Sponsors and Subscribers are given preference for extensive research on specific properties or specific families featured in HI Mailbag articles. ~ Sharon

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About the Author

Sharon Butsch Freeland is a freelance researcher, writer, proofreader, and editor. She's a proud alumna of Shortridge High School and MacMurray College and over the years has also taken courses at Herron School of Art and Design, Indiana University, University of Colorado, Colorado Academy of Art, and the Indianapolis Art Center. She's been the executive director of a nonprofit association, a newspaper columnist, a residential real estate broker, and a political campaign staff member. Fascinated by Indianapolis history from an early age, Sharon's passion for bygone eras became even more compelling when she discovered that her ancestors had settled in Indiana in 1828. Since learning that she's a seventh generation Hoosier, many details about both the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis have taken on new meaning for her. Sharon enjoys helping others get excited about the history of Indianapolis, as well as the histories of their own families.

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