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New England Hospital for Women and Children

41 & 55 Dimock Street

Built: 1872-1930

Style: Stick Style, High Victorian Gothic, Utilitarian, Classical, & Georgian Revival by Angelica Coleman


HISTORY

Founded by Dr. Marie E. Zakrzewska with Lucy Goddard and Edna Dow Cheney in 1862, the New England Hospital for Women and Children set out to provide women with medical care by competent physicians of their own sex and to educate women looking to study medicine. The New England Hospital for Women and Children opened on July 1, 1862. It was one of the first hospitals in America founded specifically by and for women. It had a ten bed capacity and was previously located on Pleasant Street in Boston's South End. The goals of the new institution were: To provide for women medical aid of competent physicians of their own sex, to assist educated women in the practical study of medicine, and to train nurses for the care of the sick. The N.E.H became significant for its role in the history of women in medicine as well as for its architecture. It served primarily as a teaching and a practicing hospital and also opened its doors to Black Americans. Mary Eliza Mahoney became the first Black American nurse when she graduated from the N.E.H. in 1879.

Soon after opening its doors in 1862 more space was needed and the management decided to have a building designed specifically for its needs. Architects Cummings and Sears (also responsible for the design of New Old South Church in Boston, 1876) were chosen to design the new hospital. Other architects include John A. Fox, W.T. Sears, and Kendall, Taylor, and Company.

During the years 1950 to 1970, the N.E.H. suffered economic, social, and medical changes when women were no longer allowed to practice medicine, making the original purpose of the hospital invalid. There was also a large rise in the middle class and poor people, placing a financial burden on the hospital. In 1971 after a study of the hospital, the Dimock Community Health Center was established to serve patients in specialized areas of medicine and social services. The center was renamed in honor of Dr. Susan Dimock, a well-known graduate of N.E.H. Other prominent women involved with the hospital include: Dr. Lucy Ellen Sewall (1837-1890), she was a resident physician, handled the hospital management, and trained students; Linda Ann Richards (1841-1930), America's first professionally trained nurse.



ARCHITECTURE

The New England Hospital for Women and Children is comprised of eight major buildings on a nine acre site located on a small hill in Roxbury. Each building features a different style of architecture because they were designed over a 58 year period and they were designed by multiple architects as well. Architectural styles change from the Stick Style and High Victorian Gothic of the late 19th century to the Classical and Georgian Revival of the early 20th century.



CURRENT USE

The New England Hospital for Women and Children is today known as the Dimock Community Health Center. At present, the Center is evaluating its potential in an effort to upgrade the buildings and the grounds.



SOURCES

National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form

National Park Service

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