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Garretson Hospital

If you travel back over a century ago, you would find a dental school, a school of pharmacy, a podiatry school, and a medical school adjoining the future site of Baldwin Park, right about where the North x Northwest town homes are today on the north edge of the Park. The block between 18th and 19th, Hamilton and Buttonwood Streets was one of the last empty blocks in the neighborhood; then built out almost completely over a 22 year span; then returned to an empty block for almost 50 years; and finally, 4 years ago, built out completely again. This article will talk about Temple University, James E. Garretson, and Joseph Price, possibly only one of these names being familiar to you.
garretson 1875 map.jpeg
Portion of 1875 map showing the block in question, between Buttonwood and Hamilton and 18th and 19th Streets. The Reyburn lots are on the southeast corner of 19th and Spring Garden Streets for reference. Hamilton Street was a through street at this time, from 9th almost to the Schuylkill River. The Kuhns were relatives of the former owner of all of Bush Hill, William Hamilton, after whose family Hamilton Street is named.
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Portion of 1888 map showing Graham's Trimming Factory at the northeast corner of 19th and Hamilton and a row of town houses (gray bar) on 18th Street.
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Sketch of the Graham factory from 1886, built the year before. 19th Street runs left to right in foreground. Buttonwood Street is on the left.
The ad is part of an aerial map of Philadelphia featuring sponsoring companies around the border. A facsimile is on wall display in the Social Science room in the Parkway branch of the Free Library.
garretson 1895 map.jpeg
Portion of 1895 map showing the shoe factory added in 1891 at the southeast corner of 19th and Buttonwood Streets. Tatlow Street runs east-west splitting the future Baldwin Park.
The Philadelphia Dental College was chartered in 1863, the second dental college in Philadelphia and just the fourth in the United States. The first building for the Philadelphia Dental College was at 108-110 North 10th Street. It moved closer to our neighborhood in 1887, to 1717 Cherry Street. In 1897 it made the jump to a new building at 18th and Buttonwood Streets, a building as wide as a town home but running half way up the block from 18th towards 19th with a southern wing running to Hamilton Street behind the homes on 18th Street. In 1908, one year after Temple affiliated with the Philadelphia Dental College and Garretson Hospital, a five-year project to build a new Horace Trumbauer-designed hospital building at 1813 Hamilton Street, was completed. This filled in the block. 
James E. Garretson (1828-1895) was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and moved to Philadelphia to attend the Philadelphia College of Dental Surgery. He went from there to three years at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, graduating in 1859 as a DDS and an MD. He was the first specialist in the new field of oral surgery when he was appointed Oral Surgeon at Penn. In 1878 he left Penn and started a hospital for oral surgery at the Philadelphia Dental College on 10th Street. He blended all his training when he added a Medico-Chirurgical Hospital to the complex, performing all types of surgery in addition to oral surgery. He was dean of the Philadelphia Dental College from 1879 until his death in 1895. Two years later the new hospital at 18th and Buttonwood was named Garretson Hospital in his honor.
garretsonn pdc 10th and arch.jpg
First building of Philadelphia Dental College at 108-110 North 10th Street, sketched after Garretson had added the hospital of oral surgery in 1878.
This sketch and the one below are from a 16-page 1945 biography of Garretson here.
garretson cherry st.jpeg
The Philadelphia Dental College and Hospital of Oral Surgery College Hall building at 1717 Cherry Street on the right, and the Medico-Chirurgical Hospital and College on the left. The two hospitals were loosely affiliated, mainly through the efforts of dentist and surgeon Garretson.
Chirurgical is the antiquated word for surgical. The hyphenated "Medico-Chirurgical" harks back to the old days when physicians and surgeons were distinct professions, the latter seen as barbaric but necessary. Two of the three "A's" of modern medicine, anesthesia (ether, 1846) and antisepsis (Lister's carbolic acid, 1867), helped tone down the barbarity. The other "A," antibiotics, would come much later (penicillin, 1942).
As late as the 1960's there was the Physicians and Surgeons Hospital at 1707 Green Street, still drawing the distinction, but the more inclusive Doctors Hospital was at 17th and Vine.
med-chirurgical cherry complex.jpeg
Sketch circa 1900 of the Philadelphia Dental College and Hospital of Oral Surgery complex.
In 1887 the Indigent Widows' and Single Women's Society Asylum vacated the building in center to move to West Philadelphia, and the Medico-Chirurgical Hospital and dental college moved in. The dome of the Cathedral is in the background. 
garretson med-chir blocking parkway.jpeg
1917 photo looking northwest from City Hall up the developing Fairmount Parkway (now the Benjamin Franklin Parkway). The former Philadelphia Dental College-Medico-Chirurgical Hospital complex stands in the way but will be gone after brief use in the 1918 influenza pandemic.
garretson 1901 map.jpeg
Portion of 1901 map showing the irregular shape of the Philadelphia Dental College, now in our neighborhood.
garretson along buttonwood 1905.jpeg


Some old photos awe me with their clarity and resolution.
Photo from 1905 of the narrow building along Buttonwood Street seen from 18th.
The sign on Belgian block-lined 18th Street says:
Philadelphia Dental College
and on cobblestone Buttonwood Street it says:
Hospital of Oral Surgery
Garretson Hospital
Free dental, medical and surgical services
Entrance above at central door
garretson ambulance 1909.jpg
Ambulance clopping west down Buttonwood Street to the main entrance in 1909
garretson ward.jpeg
Photo circa 1898 of the general ward. There were ten beds here, with a separate private ward also on the first floor. The total width including walls looks to be about 20 feet, suggesting that this ward is towards the middle of the block and not in the narrow wing.
garretson flagg.jpeg
Faculty pictures taken just before the move to 18th and Buttonwood.
Garretson is in the middle with the cotton-candy sideburns. 
You may recognize the surname Flagg at top left. It belongs to Josiah Foster Flagg, DDS, who, like the Stanley Griswold Flagg who starred in our Tivoli article, was a seventh generation descendant of Thomas Flegg (spelling then), who came to America in 1635.
J. Foster and Stanley would work within a stone's throw of each other. The 1907 version of here traces the Flagg lineage back to 1160!
Garretson and J. Foster Flagg were brothers-in-law.
Garretson 1909 map.jpeg
Portion of 1909 map showing the addition of the new Garretson Hospital building at 1813 Hamilton Street. The block is pretty much filled in.
garretson on hamilton 1905.jpeg
1908 photo of the new Garretson Hospital facing Hamilton Street.
This building occupied part of the land area now occupied by Units 1C and 1D of the townhouses bordering the north side of Baldwin Park. I could not find the wording on the plaque in the bottom middle of this photo. Photo credit here.
Let's discuss the colleges on this site and their history here. The Philadelphia Dental College changed its name to the Temple University School of Dentistry in 1913. It would stay in our neighborhood until moving to Broad and Allegheny Streets in North Philadelphia in 1947.
In 1907, Temple also moved its school of Pharmacy into the 18th and Buttonwood building. It would move to the North Philadelphia location at Broad and Allegheny Streets along with the dental school in 1947.
Temple Medical School opened up in College Hall, on Temple's present undergraduate campus, in 1901. It was an evening and weekend medical school, with a curriculum that took five years to complete. In 1907, to meet state credentialing requirements, the medical school became a day program and moved to 18th and Buttonwood. At this point, Temple College became Temple University. The medical school would stay here, in the same building as the dental and pharmacy schools, until it moved to a building (demolished in 2015) at Broad and Ontario Streets in North Philadelphia in 1930. 
The Temple College of Chiropody became the fifth chiropodist program in the United States, opening up at 18th and Buttonwood in 1916. Around this same time, the field of chiropody worked to change its name to podiatry, for two reasons: the name chiropody implied care of hands and feet; and the name sounded a little bit like the field of chiropractic, which was held in low repute. Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine went through some ups and downs with certifications, but opened up a large facility at 8th and Race Streets in 1973 (call to make an appointment to see their free shoe museum).
Temple's first hospital was Samaritan Hospital, a 20-bed hospital opening in 1892 in a house at Broad and Ontario Streets. In 1898 Greatheart Maternity Hospital was built next to Samaritan, but was razed in 1923 to expand Samaritan. Temple would have a contiguous medical "campus" in our own neighborhood when they moved their Greatheart Maternity Hospital into the private Joseph Price Maternity Hospital at 1810-1812 Spring Garden Street. This made our neighborhood a hotbed for "eds and meds," since between 1919 and 1922 there also sprang up two other medical colleges discussed on our website, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathy at 1818-1822 Spring Garden Street and the Pennsylvania State College of Optometry at 1809 Spring Garden Street.
Joseph Price (1853-1911) himself had interesting neighborhood connections. Like Garretson, he graduated from Penn Medical School. Price became a local gynecologist who worked at the Preston Retreatbeing a very strong advocate of antisepsis in order to lower the maternal mortality rate. He also worked at the Gynacean Hospital for Women (which seems to me a redundant name) at 247 North 18th Street, developing new techniques in gynecologic surgery. He was a bit cantankerous and independent, probably because he was ahead of his time, and opened up his own hospital at 239-241 North 18th Street in 1891, right next door to the Gynacean. Obstetrics and gynecology were separate specialties at that time, so in 1897 he opened up a maternity hospital in two townhomes at 1810-1812 Spring Garden Street. He was a tireless worker, and on June 6, 1911, he operated on a young girl for appendicitis at noon, and he himself was operated on four hours later for the same affliction, an operation which he did not survive. His memorium can be found at the outside link here.
The Gynacean and Price's gynecology hospital were removed in 1950 to make way for the Vine Street Expressway.
garretson gynecean.jpeg
1911 photo of 239-241 North 18th Street. The matching four-story buildings were the private gynecologic hospital of Dr. Joseph Price. The Gynecean Hospital for Women is the building on the left, officially 243-247 North 18th Street. The house at 249 N 18th Street had once been the home of locomotive wheel magnate Asa Whitney. They would all be demolished in 1950 for the Vine Street Expressway project.
garretson 1963.jpeg
garretson price sg.jpeg
1930 photo of the Greatheart Maternity Hospital at 1810-1812 Spring Garden Street.
These matching four-story buildings had been the Joseph Price Maternity Hospital from 1897 until Temple relocated its maternity hospital here in 1923. You can see the three-story Philadelphia Dental College building on Buttonwood Street in the left background.
At its peak the relocated Greatheart Hospital had beds for 60 mothers with 50 bassinets. Garretson Hospital, made into a general hospital by Temple, had 75 beds. As clinical services (except for maternity) consolidated in North Philadelphia, and as neighborhood factories moved to the suburbs, patient care services at Garretson diminished. The Baldwin Locomotive Works was completely gone by 1926. Fewer factories, fewer injuries, fewer patients. The upside is that the entirety of the  Garretson buildings was turned over to the educational departments like Histology, Embryology, Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology, and Bacteriology by 1928. This allowed the medical college to finally get its long-sought "A" rating. The Greatheart Maternity Hospital on Spring Garden Street closed in 1932 when maternity services moved to the 35-bed fourth floor of Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia. Adding to the neighborhood drain, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathy moved to West Philadelphia in 1928, and the Pennsylvania State College of Optometry moved to the Oak Lane section of Philadelphia in 1932.
garretson 1962 map.jpeg
Portion of 1962 map showing empty lots (V) and empty medical buildings. 
There was a Linton's Restaurant to the west of the former Temple facility on Spring Garden Street.
garretson 1963.jpeg
1963 photo for the Historic Commission looking northwest at the corner of Buttonwood and 18th Streets. You can see how narrow the Philadelphia Dental College building was.
The building was purchased by I-T-E Circuit Breaker Company in 1963 and demolished for site use as a parking lot for I-T-E employees.
1975 photo taken for the Historic Commission documenting the hospital's existence before demolition.
As discussed in our website articles on the Franklin Town project, much of our neighborhood was scraped to the ground in anticipation of high-rise buildings going up all around the future Baldwin Park. This high-rise plan is why then Franklin Town Park, now Baldwin Park, is landscaped the way it is: it was meant to be seen from above. The 50-acre Franklin Town project, announced publicly in 1971, was to be a "city-within-a-city," and completed in ten years. Economic pull-backs nationally, along with sky-high inflation in the 1970's, put an end to timelines. Fortunately, the original plan has been filling in organically over the last 50 years, finally including the block in question in 2016. North x Northwest tower and townhomes, with parking lot, covered over the wasted surface parking lot after more than 40 years. 
FT map of landowners.jpeg
Look who bought the "Temple Campus!" I-T-E, one of the five members of the failed Franklin Town Development project.
1971 original proposed map of Franklin Town with Franklin Town Corporation-owned properties noted by stippling. Other properties were taken by eminent domain.
Image from article in The Philadelphia Bulletin dated June 13, 1971.
NxNW 2014.JPG
Aerial photo from 2014, looking northeast, of the lot adjoining Baldwin Park.
The original Franklin Town plan included vacating Hamilton Street between 18th and 19th. In this photo, Hamilton Street has become the southern strip of the parking lot, and Buttonwood has been blocked by a tree making public access to a shortened Buttonwood Street only from 19th Street, and a parking lot entrance on 18th Street.
garretson today.jpeg
Same view as above in 2020.
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Same surface parking lot from the northwest in 2014.
Notice that Synergy, the gates crafted by Albert Paley as part of the Percent for Art requirement, welcome drivers to the east entrance of Buttonwood Street. These gates would be removed for construction in 2015 and put back in essentially the same spot in 2016.
The Tivoli tower was completed in 2007, and the Granary (back left) in 2014.
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In 2016 the block is finally almost completely filled in again!
You can see that the townhomes along the Park are right in the middle of the abandoned Hamilton Street.
aerial june 13 low res.jpg
Mid-June 2020 photo of Baldwin Park from the west showing the 29 crescents that make up the raised beds. These are not as clearly demarcated when seen from ground level.
garretson nxnw entrance 2020.jpg
2020 photo from the same angle as the 1963 photo with the "Sold" sign above. The Paley gates would be over Buttonwood Street if it were a through street, and the corner of the new tower would be the location of the narrow Philadelphia Dental College building.
garretson dental hygiene 2020.jpg
What a coincidence!
The Dental Hygiene Clinic of the Community College of Philadelphia is in the West Building, built in 1982, and here is in the same photo as the site of the old Philadelphia Dental College.
authored by Joe Walsh, August 2020
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