Where was the Good Samaritan Hospital’s first site in Lebanon?

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Thanks to a post in a Lebanon Facebook group, we were reminded of a great piece of Lebanon history – 711 Chestnut Street.

The house was built sometime in the early 1880’s and went on the market a couple of times through that decade.

As of May 28, 1889, the house was still for sale. But on June 13, 1889 it was announced that 711 Chestnut Street had been secured as a new hospital, “The Good Samaritan”, which would soon occupy a larger building to be constructed on the site. That weekend a reception was held in the house, featuring strawberries, ice cream, water ice, and cakes for sale.

We think that all our people are interested in the success of this good work. Its support should not fall upon a few—everybody should give—and all should, by attending the opening on Saturday evening, show their appreciation of what has already been done.

Lebanon Daily News, June 14, 1889

The Guild of St. Catherine of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was the organization behind the early effort. (Learn more St. Luke’s history at their website.)

The hospital was a community effort. Here is a list of contributors published in a January 1890 edition of the Lebanon Daily News.

By 1892, the hospital had treated 200 patients at the old house. That January it felt compelled to address a report in the Daily News that the hospital administrators had engaged an architect to build a new structure. They clarified that an architect had not yet been hired, but they did intend to construct something:

Failing to secure a larger dwelling in the neighborhood of our present site, our work having so enlarged that we are forced to have more beds at once, we expect to erect a new structure as soon as the Spring opens.

Good Samaritan Hospital note in the Lebanon Daily News, January 20, 1892

The new building would be on the south east corner of 4th & Walnut Streets, which remains the site of the WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital to this day. At the time, the lot was said to have a wonderful view of the Lebanon Valley. The construction was arduous, with the Lebanon Daily News applauding the final effort in this June 12, 1894 editorial, saying that the group had overcome…

…many obstacles, some of the at first seemingly insurmountable, the ladies having the work in charge have had to overcome. It is all very well to behold now the beautiful building at the corner of Fourth and Walnut streets, but who can estimate the sleepless nights and worryings, the opposition from many sides, and withal for many days and weeks and months the dread that perhaps at the end it would prove a failure?

The site continued to grow through the years. Today you wouldn’t recognize the original structure, but the second building visible above still stands. Here’s what the 4th & Walnut site looks like on Google’s generated birds eye view.

Know another Lebanon building we should profile? Let us know in the comments!

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