(click to enlarge photos)
In Jean Sherrard’s “now,” five nurses from Swedish Hospital’s oncology ward stand at or close to what was once the southeast corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue. This was also the prospect for Asahel Curtis’s “then,” recorded early in the twentieth century when this First Hill neighborhood was still known for its stately homes, big incomes and good manners.
With about 110 years between them, both Sherrard and Curtis are sighting to the northwest, and both their photographs are only the center thirds of wide panoramas. Sherrard’s shows Swedish Hospital’s lobby during a renovation. Curtis’s pan at its full width is merged from three negatives. It reaches from the northeast corner of Columbia and Summit, on the right, to far west down Columbia, on the left. (The full pans of both now hang in the lobby of Town Hall, the former Fourth Church of Christian Science, another First Hill institution on the southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street.)
The big home, centered here at the northwest corner of the intersection, was built for the Seattle banker-industrialist, Charles J. Smith. He in turn sold it to the doctor-surgeon Edmund Rininger in 1905, about the time Curtis visited the corner, perhaps at Rininger’s request. With his wife Nellie and daughter Olive, Rininger moved into the house next door on Columbia, in order to set about building his Summit Avenue Hospital at the corner.
The surgeon’s plans were fatally upset on July 25, 1912,å when, while driving home from a house call in Kent, the forty-two year old Rininger, alone in his motorcar, collided with a Puget Sound Electric Railway train. With the death of her husband, Nellie Rininger sold the nearly completed hospital to the Swedish Hospital Association in the spring of 1913. As part of this fateful transfer, Nellie Rininger also gifted her late husband’s large medical library and his then new x-ray machine to Swedish Hospital.
Both the china and linen monogramed SAH for Rininger’s Summit Avenue Hospital came with the sale. No doubt for reasons of economy the Swedish Hospital Association (SHA) decided to use both in spite of the reordering of the letters.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes Jean and again with help from Rod Edge. First, several links below, and all include features that relate to the neighborhood and sometimes just beyond it. Some will be found twice, perhaps even thrice. The most relevant feaure is probably the last one about the General Hospital. It first appeared here not so long ago. Also featured here is my “mea culpa” (I am guilty) confession concerning my flubs with the the Anderson mansion, and my humble correction.
SOME OTHER HOSPITALS ON THE HILL
BACK TO THE CORNER
2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Summit Avenue Hospital”
Hello, Paul, nice piece this morning. I especially enjoyed the nurses. However, Dr. Rininger did not drive. See the report of the coroner’s report, Seattle Times, July 26, 1912, page 1 (along with photos of Riverside crossing where it happened). There were three in the car; the nurse survived.
Wonderful Now and Then article –
Put together nicely for the layman like me!
Marjorie Ayres Peterson a serious History Buff- Born @ home 126 Taylor,1922, Seattle, Wa.