Monday, February 11, 2008

Forest Hills Hospital

Taken from a post card, thanks to Ebay.

There are a few topics that I've been holding on to, hoping to develop enough information to write a worthwhile article. One of them has been the Forest Hills Hospital. I've seen the facility on maps, and I've found a few passing mentions online, but it was only recently that I happened upon the article posted below. The location seems like a great place for a hospital, sitting as it does at a transportation hub. The access is certainly better than for the Faulkner hospital, with its one bus line and no on-street parking. I still don't have the story of the hospital, but this post will serve as a start, and maybe someone will leave a comment to fill in the greater story that I still don't know.

This map shows the property in 1874, undeveloped and owned by Jacob Seaver. Look along Morton street, very near to Washington street and the Forest Hills train station.

In 1905, the lot had been divided up, with homes owned by Jacob Seaver, Thomas Minton, and Seaver & Weld Trustees.

By 1914, the hospital shows up, in the former Seaver house.

Finally, in 1924, the hospital has a new brick building on adjacent land, directly behind the new West Roxbury courthouse.

So I don't know when the hospital opened, or when it closed, but I've got some of the middle bits. Better than nothing.

Edit: I've decided to put some new information in this entry, rather than create a new one. I had seen a reference to an Emerson Hospital and suspected that it was the same as the Forest Hills facility. Here is an early reference to the same institution under the Emerson name. Dr Shadman shows up online as a homeopathic doctor. Mass. Memorial Hospital also shows up as a homeopathic facility in its early incarnation, and apparently became part of the Boston University medical school. I can't sort out the relationship yet, so I'll leave the B.U. connection for now.

6/08: I just found the above picture on Ebay.

Boston Daily Globe December 9, 1913

Restrained From Taking New Patients

Emerson Hospital Order Issued by Court.

On Petition of Dr Shadman, Who Has Leased the Property.

Judge Jenney in Superior Court yesterday restrained the Emerson Hospital on Morton st, Forest Hills, from taking any more patients while at its present house, on a bill filed by Dr Alonzo J. Shadman, who had leased the property.

Dr Shadman was a director in the corporation, but sold his interests. He was denied the privilege later of bringing in or treating patients there. He then arranged to least the property, and when he did, he notified the corportation to vacate the premises, but it has continued to stay there. Dr Shadman said he could not evict them because it would be dangerous to the patients. He intends to conduct a hospital on the premises.

The Citizen December 19, 1946

Mass. Memorial Hospitals Buy Forest Hills General

Massachusetts Memorial Hospitals announced this week purchase of the property of the Forest Hills General Hospital for use as a pavilion for private patients.

Staff physicians of Massachusetts Memorial Hospitals, it was explained, have experienced increasing difficulty in finding room for private patients, so purchase of this property was made to meet more immediately the need than would be possible through the prolonged process of erecting a new building.

Comtemplated plans include changes in partitioning and installation of adequate plumbing facilities to provide accommodations for 116 additional private and semi-private patients.

Massachusetts Memorial Hospitals now consist of Talbot Memorial, used as an outpatient department; Robinson Memorial, erected in 1916; Coliamore Memorial, erected in 1936; Evans Memorial, new building erected in 1942, all of which are contiguous and house inpatients. The other division is the Hayes Memorial, contagious disease unit, Brighton, which has (?50) bed capacity.

With the new private pavilion, the patient capacity of the entire institution will number 566 beds, including 45 bassinets.


  1. What has become of the records from the Forest Hills Hospital circa 1920?

  2. What has become of the records from Forest Hills Hospital circa 1920's?

  3. Good question. I got the impression that they were bought by the Boston University hospital, so they may have gone there. If not, I suspect that the state would have them.

  4. My mother told me that the name of the hospital was also Washington Hospital. I was born there (by c-section) on April 2nd, 1945. She also said it later became a veterinary hospital in later years.

  5. When I was growing up (60's), it was then called the Washingtonian. Here is a link which I believe relates to hospital records from there.

    Along the street in front of this building once stood 7 or 8 horse chestnut trees. We would grab a few paper bags from Donegan's Market, stand down in the street and throw sticks up into the trees, trying to dislodge clumps of chestnut seeds. The seeds would explode and scatter on the pavement below and we would scurry around filling our bags with the dark brown nuggets. The distinctive scent and feel of a mature chestnut is etched clearly in my mind to this day, as well as a treasured childhood memory. :-)

  6. I am looking for some notice of Arthur Winthrop May who may have died in 1945-1949, He was a veterinarian and JP. He was a member of the cavalry as well.

  7. My Sister was born at Forest Hills Hospital in 1942. Today it is the Washingtonian Hospital for Recovering Alcoholics.

  8. Does anyone know when the name of the hospital changed? My mother told me I was born there (December 1945). This blog is the first time I've ever seen a photo.

  9. My great Aunt and her sister were trained in Nursing at Emerson Hospital in the early '20's.

  10. My sister informed me that my father was in the Washingtonian Hospital in the 1940's well before I was born in an attempt to "cure" his alcoholism. He was allowed to come home on weekends to his family.

  11. My father said my great grandfather went to "dry out" at the Washingtonian Hospital in the 1950s. He said he died in 1958 or 1960. I'm trying to find out when exactly. After his grandpa disappeared for a few months, someone found him dead on the street near the hospital. Apparently, he had drunk himself to death.

  12. One of my coworkers at the Glenside hospital in Jamaica Plain used to work at the Washingtonian hospital on Morton Street.
    It was a drying out hospital for alcohol it's based on the treatment prescribed by the Washingtonian society

  13. Also, can anyone tell if the two photos in this article are the same building. They could be the same building with an addition added on but there are several structural features that look different. Not very clear

  14. In 1943- or 1944 I was two years and a bit more of age. I had my tonsils taken out at Forest Hills Hospital. I remember walking to the hospital that day with my mother. We lived on Williams St., at the corner of Plainfield Street. I remember being in the hospital and crying for water. I remember a bigger boy who was in traction with a broken leg. There were two other babies like me in cribs like mine, but I don't really remember much about them. I do remember when my father and mother came to get me and take me home again I told them to "Go away, I don't want nobody!" Forest Hills Hospital -- it seems to me it was up on a hill not far from Forest Hills Station. My mother even said to me that day as we walked up, "Isn't it nice up here?"

  15. I don't know if this is the same place, but I was born Aug. 14, 1924, in what was called the Emerson Hospital in Jamaica Plain. My birth certificate is entered in the records of the City of Boston. As you can see, I am still above ground.

  16. My father's birth certificate states that he was born at Emerson Hospital 18 July 1930. Prior to seeing this, he had ALWAYS told us he was born at the Faulkner, and we put that into his obituary (he died 26 January 2017). So the hospital was still in operation in 1930. It's rather mysterious.

  17. I was born at the "Forest Hills Hospital" in 1940 deliverd by a Dr. Haskins of Brookline, MA
    And my sister too in 1946 . . .

  18. The Forest Hills Hospital is the same as the Emerson Hospital and later the Washington Hospital. My Grandfather, Alonzo Shadman, fought with Dr Emerson over medical practices (cleanliness -sterile- standards, surgical procedures, etc.) and was banned from admitting patients. He bought up all the outstanding notes on the property and took over the hospital. The Forest Hills Hospital went on to become one of the most respected hospitals, not only in Mass., but internationally. Many advanced surgical procedures (extremely small incisions, etc.) were developed there. Dr Shadman performed over 20,000 operations in his career at the hospital without using one blood transfusion and never lost a patient as a result (He used a sterile saline solution instead). The hospital became the Washington Hospital after being sold by Dr. Shadman.

  19. The hospital was founded by Nathaniel Waldo Emerson (whose wife later had the cabin where I now live built, thus I have been digging in to their history). They were apparently divorced at some point and he had an affair with an actress - I am not putting my finger on her name at the moment. Some sources:

  20. Found one more - from the Bowdoin alumni magazine:

    Nathaniel Waldo Emerson, M.D., one of the
    best known homeopathic physicians in New Eng-
    land, and his wife, Carlotta Bond Emerson, died
    on December 19th and 20th, within twenty-four
    hours of each other. Both had recently under-
    gone operations. Dr. Emerson was born on
    March 6th, 1854 in Boston, and upon receiving
    his M.D. from Boston University in 1881 he be-
    gan practicing there. He was a member of the
    faculty at the medical school from which he
    graduated for several years and studied in Ger-
    many, Vienna and London. The late Mayor Hib-
    bard of Boston was attracted to Dr. Emerson by
    an operation he performed in March 1906 at
    the Trull Hospital in Biddeford, Me. He had
    just begun to operate when fire broke out in the
    hospital. The life of his patient was hanging
    in the balance. He stood over the patient and
    completed the operation while the fire raged
    above his head and while he stood almost knee-
    deep in water that had seeped into the room.

    Dr. Emerson established his own hospital,
    which is at 118 Forest Hills Avenue, Boston,
    and it was here that he and his wife died. "