Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

The Dowager’s Diary – Week One Hundred and Fifty-Eight

March 7-14, 1918

“Colonel Edwin Stevens, husband of Emily Contee Lewis Stevens, died in his sixtieth year. Services at the Church of the Holy Innocents at Sixth Street and Willow Avenue in Hoboken.” Of course, Kate Roosevelt had to pay her respects to the son of her father, William Shippen’s mentor, Edwin Stevens, Sr., the marine engineer who founded Stevens Institute of Technology. Edwin Stevens, Jr. (1858-1918), like his father, was also involved in the business of maritime manufacturing. He was a founder of Cox and Stevens, a New York City yacht design firm.  His uncle, John Cox Stevens, established the New York Yacht Club and was the driving force in designing the yacht, America, for which the race the America’s Cup was named.

Edwin Augustus Stevens, Jr., graduated from Princeton University in 1879 and that same year married, Emily Contee Lewis of Virginia a descendant of George Washington’s adopted daughter, Martha “Patsy” Custis.

Martha “Patsy” Custis

After paying her condolences in Hoboken, Kate was back in New York City. “To Banker’s Trust to arrange for a Safe Deposit Box. This is now the only safe deposit box that I have. The key is on the ring with my front door keys.” Having a secure spot to store her Shippen Family heirlooms and Roosevelt relics was important to the wealthy widow. I wondered if Kate placed the engraved and dated wedding rings that she and her late-husband Hilborne Roosevelt exchanged when they were married on February 1, 1883 along with the antique wedding lace she wore on that day in the new safe deposit box at Banker’s Trust?

Kate and Hilborne Roosevelt Wedding Rings, February 1, 1883

Feeling secure about her prize possessions, Kate was off to a concert at the Colony Club on Park Avenue and later to an entertainment for World War One officers at her friend, Grace Hemings’ house on Madison Avenue.

Stirred by the soldiers and their war stories, the next day, Mrs. Roosevelt took her grandson, Langdon Geer to see a Douglas Fairbanks movie. The actor was in New York City to publicize the bond drive to raise funds for the Allies overseas.

Douglas Fairbanks, 1918 War Bond Rally, New York City

The troops needed all the money these star-studded rallies could muster. According to Kate’s diary, the Germans had taken Odessa in the Black Sea and were moving through Russia.

Feeling philanthropic and patriotic, Kate Roosevelt wrapped-up the second week of March, 1918 by visiting the Lying- In Hospital on Second Avenue and 17th Street. She was there to attend a lecture on a program the hospital was starting that trained nurses to work in patient clinics and to decide on how much of a donation to give.

Her friend, Florence Rhett had been traveling companion to J.P. Morgan’s three daughters. The millionaire’s generosity helped to establish the Lying-In Hospital and every year Kate Roosevelt and her society friends added to the hospital’s coffers by hosting charity events and fund-raising campaigns.

Lying-in Hospital

It was a worthy cause. The Lying-in Hospital was established by two Columbia Medical School Students, James Wright Markoe and Samuel W. Lambert, who saw a need for a clinic in New York City to help needy mothers-to-be. In the mid-1800s, the city was bursting with immigrants, simply struggling to survive in the tenements of the Lower East Side. The two young doctors established a midwifery dispensary in a house at 313 Broome Street. Expectant women flocked to the facility and more space was needed.

Dr. Markoe, reached-out to his high-society circle of friends and colleagues whom he knew from membership in the New York Yacht Club; the Metropolitan and Century Clubs and his highly-fashionable, church, St. George’s on Stuyvesant Square.

One of his patients was J.P. Morgan.  He was not only his physician, but also a friend who was sympathetic to Dr. Markoe’s determination to expand his clinic.

In 1894, the Hamilton Fish mansion on the corner of Second Avenue and 17thStreet was purchased and converted into a hospital. The New York Times wrote, “In this fairly commodious house the work of the association has increased.” Within a year, the stream of patients grew so steadily, a larger building was needed. By 1895 the push began to expand the hospital. Mayor William Lafayette Strong introduced a bill appropriating $12,000 (a quarter of a million dollars in today’s money) to the charity. Adding to that, private donations came in, but at a slow rate, and not to the liking of J.P. Morgan.  To move things along, the millionaire hired an architect and oversaw construction of a larger hospital. He said, “I assume that the cost of the building will be about one million dollars, which sum I am prepared to donate.”

Maternity Nurses

Robert Henderson Robertson designed the building and Dr. Markoe was in command of the medical aspects of the structure. The New York Times said of the architect’s plans, “The proposed new hospital building will be a handsome and imposing structure of granite and pressed brick, thoroughly fireproof, ten stories in height. It will have every improvement and convenience known in modern architecture and applicable to hospital purposes. It will have accommodations for two hundred and fifty patients and as the patients are usually discharged in two weeks, the total capacity of the hospital will be about six thousand-five hundred a year, while the outdoor (clinic) service is practically unlimited.”

Encouraged by the progress, the governing body of the hospital made plans to raise additional funds.  One of J.P. Morgan’s stipulations was that the hospital be financially independent. His patronage in the project might have been a factor in its becoming a favorite money-raising cause among New York’s wealthiest socialites that included Kate Roosevelt and her coterie.  Every year several weeks before Easter, a Kettledrum Charity was held at the Waldorf Astoria. The New York Times anticipated it as “one of the most important Lenten entertainment to which society people are now looking forward will take place on the afternoon and evening of March 19th at the Waldorf-Astoria.  The Society of the Lying-In Hospital of the City of New York is to be beneficiary and the fashionable set have come out in force to give it their patronage.”

The article listed the ladies behind the affair. It included Caroline Astor, Mrs. John Jacob Astor, Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish, Mrs. Ogden Mills, Mrs. Frederic W. Vanderbilt, and other dominant names like Rhinelander, Sloane, Lorillard, Whitney, Stokes, Dodge and Roosevelt.

The old Fish mansion was demolished for the new construction. On August 13, 1900 the New-York Tribune gave an update: “The exterior of the main structure lacks only a few additions in the way of casements and doors to make it complete and the gangs of men employed upon the central superstructure are busily at work on the iron frame.”

The newspaper was not impressed with the architectural details, “The main building arrests the attention of the passer by not so much because of its architecture, which is markedly lacking in ornate features, but because it stands in such striking contrast with its immediate neighborhood.  It towers high above the adjacent dwelling houses and its walls of gray Ohio limestone and bright red brick stand out sharply in comparison with their dingy brownstone.”

The hospital opened in January, 1902 and one of the admired architectural details was the sculptures of chubby babies adorning the upper floors of the façade.

As the years passed, John Pierpont Morgan, Jr. grew concerned about the long-term stability of the hospital his father had so generously donated to. He recruited John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and George Baker to join him in establishing an association with New York Hospital.  Upon the opening of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in 1932, the Lying-In Hospital moved out of the Second Avenue building and became the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of New York Hospital.

In 1985, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is used for offices and residences.

Sharon Hazard’s Dowager’s Diary appears on Thursday.

On WAT-CAST, listen to Sharon talk about the series.

Photo One:
The Yacht America
National Maritime Museum

Photo Two:
Edwin Stevens, Sr.
Ironclad Battery Publication, public domain

Photo Three:
Martha “Patsy” Custis
public domain

Photo Four:
Kate and Hilborne Roosevelt Wedding Rings, February 1, 1883
Noel Seifert Photo

Photo Five:
Douglas Fairbanks, 1918 War Bond Rally, New York City
Public Domain

Photo Six:
Lying-in Hospital
Museum City of New York

Photo Seven:
Maternity Nurses
Columbia University

The post The Dowager’s Diary – Week One Hundred and Fifty-Eight appeared first on Woman Around Town.

This post first appeared on Homepage - Woman Around Town, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

The Dowager’s Diary – Week One Hundred and Fifty-Eight


Subscribe to Homepage - Woman Around Town

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription