It began as a dream, the 'Hospital on the Hill'
As early as 1923 the idea of a non-denominational, non-profit community hospital was promoted by civic-minded citizens. By January of 1924, that idea had jelled into an informally organized Hospital Committee.
After much discussion about where to locate a hospital, the committee turned its sights to property overlooking Fairground Park (now Capaha Park), the site for the area's annual fall agricultural exposition. It was to the west, some of the original incorporators argued, that the city would grow.
That westward expansion, they surmised, would be prompted by the location of a new public school in that area (two years later, in 1926, Franklin School was built).
The Southeast Missouri Hospital Association was organized in 1926 for the purpose of raising funds to build, equip and operate a non-profit and non-sectarian hospital. Today, the Southeast Missouri Hospital Association continues to play an integral role in the on-going growth and development of the Hospital.
Back in 1926, the Association purchased a 52.5 acre tract of land from Emil Thilenius and Mrs. Anna Keller, and a little later a 5-acre tract where the Ben Greene home was located was bought from Hervey Little and became the site of the present Hospital. The acreage, in use for livestock production and crops, marked the westernmost boundary of the city. Fewer than a dozen homes existed west of Broadway and Louisiana Streets.
The Association turned to the public to generate enough money to start construction. Public response was generous, as it had been regarding the Hospital since the project began. Within eight weeks, 386 contributors had given cash and pledges of about $90,000. Another $75,000 in bonds were also issued in 1927, and retired at the end of 1937, to build the 90-bed hospital.
And finally, it was Dedication Day