For the Record: Let the sun shine in

Presbyterian Hospital circa1871Photo credit: University Archives

What we now know as Penn Presbyterian Medical Center started out, in 1871, as a 45-bed charitable institution called the Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia that was located on 2 ½ acres at 39th Street and Powelton Avenue.

Department store magnate John Wanamaker was one of the founders of the original hospital and he stayed involved until his death in 1922. His wife, Mary, who was particularly concerned about needy children, donated $30,000 to build a pediatric ward, which was finished in 1888.
A novel design, the ward was built “in the round,” with 18 beds on the first floor arranged around the perimeter, each placed in front of a large window. On sunny days, patients could be carried directly through the windows onto the porch. The ward’s unusual shape ensured that it received sunlight throughout the day, as well as cooling breezes. In the winter, the porch was enclosed with screens and heated for use as a sun parlor. Two large, open fireplaces in the center of the ward kept it warm and toasty.

This photograph was taken in 1948. Six years later, the children’s ward was demolished.

Originally published on October 5, 2006.

Originally published on October 5, 2006