Friday, April 15, 2011

Drs Hospital: Preservationists Aren't Crying Over Demolition

 posted by richard gill




Illinois Central Hospital has succumbed to the wrecking ball. Steeped in railroad lore, the 95-year-old building at 5800 South Stony Island Avenue, occupied nearly a city block. After 1973, when the Illinois Central Railroad sold the building, it operated as Hyde Park Community Hospital and Doctors Hospital. Several years ago, it was closed and, as covered extensively in Hyde Park Progress, has been the focus of pain and strife——pain and strife of a brand that Hyde Park often seems to revel in.

As the fate of the building was debated, self-proclaimed preservationists tried in vain to make their case. When some of them suggested saving at least the front semicircular driveway, portico and entrance, it was pointed out that those were additions made in the late 20th Century. Indeed the original entrance was a small stairway and a door Think the hospital entrance in The Godfather, where Michael Corleone and the baker protected Vito Corleone from assassins.



The IC Hospital served the public and was free to the railroad’s employees. If you worked anywhere on the railroad from Cairo, Illinois (pron. Karrow) north, you used the IC Hospital in Chicago. South of Cairo, you went to the IC’s southern hospital, which was either in Jackson, Mississippi or Memphis, Tennessee. Chicago headquarters notwithstanding, the IC was at heart a southern company. Even in the Chicago offices, there was plenty of drawling and ya’lling, not to mention the twanging that sprang forth from the Iowa Division.

I will remember the hospital fondly, except of course for the lower GI portion of the compulsory annual physical. Administered without sedation, the exam was conducted with a now-little-used rigid instrument called a Proctoscope. It was about a foot long, the size of a piccolo, but in railroad mythology had the dimensions of a Louisville Slugger.

So, farewell, old temple of medicine. You did not pass quietly into the night, but your absence will do Hyde Park the favor of having one less thing over which to Proctoscope itself.

11 comments:

GlassHospital said...

I googled Doctors Hospital on an occasion to learn more about it. There was a news story from the mid-90s about Jesse Jackson (Sr.) being admitted there for tests after being dehydrated.

That and the battle over the dry ward and the Marriott.

-GlassHospital

kbsb said...

Researchers at the University of Michigan invented the modern day fiber optic cables for the express purpose of making a flexible endoscopy tool that could make obsolete the protoscope. There was quite a patent battle waged regarding the technology - big surprise given all the applications for which it is used today.

David Farley said...

I am concerned that this will change the weather patterns of E. Hyde Park.

Richard Gill said...

"I am concerned that this will change the weather patterns of E. Hyde Park."

Fear not. Residents may simply obtain cans of window putty, to seal their dwellings against the predicted meteorological havoc. This is a small price to pay, compared to the public drunkenness and lewd behavior that would surely emerge from Bar Mitzvahs at the previously proposed hotel.

rdb said...

Weather patterns? Do we think the demolition of IC/Hyde Park/Doctor's hospital derelict will somehow lead to a dramatic reduction in hot air emissions? That seems unlikely!

Chason said...

Just an fyi, HPP has caught the attention of Curbed Chicago and they have a link to this story on their site!

bertha said...

I agree, that building took up a lot of room, the whole place is going to feel airier now that its gone! Who want to speculate on the next demolition target? St. Stephens church would be good.

Laura said...

I'm surprised this blog has not written about the new establishments on 53rd street yet! Just a thought.

chicago pop said...

Thank you, Laura and others, for reminding us. A trip to some of these new establishments is much overdue. Coming soon!

David Farley said...

Doctors Hospital was mostly gone when I drove by this morning, but oddly enough, a chunk of the facade is still standing.

Mary said...

I was born there in 1961 and was adopted a week later. Where would all the birth records be now that the hospital is gone.mandmvegas@hotmail.com