First Hospital May Have Been Haunted House

First Hospital May Have Been Haunted House

By Susanne Weible
Monday, April 28, 2008

The house at 1501 E. Ganson St. was rumored to be haunted. But that didn’t stop a group of Jackson men from buying the place.

CITIZEN PATRIOT FILE PHOTO
In 1886, a group of Jackson men bought a reputedly haunted house too be the city’s first hospital.

The three-story home was the first city-owned hospital. Today, the facility is the John George Home.

The hospital was run by women during its early years. A nurse named Edrick was the first superintendent, followed by Flora A. Stickle, Minnie West, Margaret Moore and Mary Hodson.

The facility had 15 beds and averaged five to eight patients.

In 1901, West partnered with local doctors to open the Jackson City Training School for Nurses, a two-year program. Ella Dutcher was the first graduate, along with its first male nurse, Appleton Plumley.

The school expanded in 1903 to a three-year program. A neighboring building at 1503 E. Ganson St. was the nurses’ dormitory.

At the same time, the hospital was remodeled and enlarged to 50 beds.

One death made a huge impact. William A. Foote, one of the founders of Jackson Power & Light Co., now called Consumers Energy, died April 14, 1915, in the overcrowded hospital. His wife, Ida, was determined to improve the situation.

Ida Foote purchased the former Peter B. Loomis estate on N. East Avenue and donated the site for a new hospital. Dr. Christopher G. Parnall, head of the city’s health department, also championed the cause. In 1918, W.A. Foote Memorial Hospital opened with 100 beds.

The old facility became the Contagious Hospital, where people with diseases like smallpox and tuberculosis were treated. Patients were moved in 1931 to the Jackson County Tuberculosis Sanitorium, 712 Erie St.

In 1938, the old hospital was remodeled to house Foote’s nursing students. Fire escapes and chimneys were rebuilt from the ground up.

In May 1948, a citizens’ committee proposed a home for worthy, older men. The project was launched with $40,000 from the John George Jr. Trust Fund and matched with community donations.

Some wanted to call it Friendship House, Amity House or Ganson House. In the end, it was named after its biggest benefactor, John George Jr.

Thirty-five men call it home today. Some residents claim it is still haunted with the ghosts of at least two nurses.

Reprinted with permission from The Jackson Citizen Patriot
Copyright April 2008

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