The Beginnings of the Condell Memorial Hospital


Despite its close proximity to Chicago, Libertyville had retained its small town charm and has a close-knit community. It’s only fitting that the first hospital built in Libertyville was put together by the donations of its citizens. During its early history, the city of Libertyville never had a hospital. Town doctors were capable and provided an individual & personal service. However, if urgent or long-term care were needed, patients were to go to a neighboring towns, such as Waukegan or Highland Park, and use their hospital. In the case of an emergency, time is a major concern and a hospital’s location could be the difference between life and death. Relying on the town’s physicians, the citizens’ needs for the most part were being met. However by the 1920s, as the town continued to grow, it became more and more apparent that something had to be done about the towns’ long term health care needs.
Picture of Condell shortly after its opening.
However, hospitals don’t just appear. Elizabeth Condell, a descendant of a pioneer family, left $20,000 to be put aside to help construct a hospital when she passed away in August 1917. Citizens of Libertyville would then make private contributions to get the construction financed. Prominent and respected citizens of the community needed to back the construction, people such as Dr. John Taylor and Samuel Insull.  These citizens would be the face of the project instilling confidence among the people. Taylor, Insull and others would also line up the medical professionals and administrators needed to set up the professional aspects of the facility. The community was required to be behind the hospital as they would be the ones primarily funding, then supporting it. In other words, for the hospital to be built, the community would literally have to invest together for everything to fall into place.
As it would happen, the hospital did come together.  In 1927 the cornerstone for what would become known as the Condell Memorial Hospital would be laid on the corners of Stewart and Harrison. During the course of the following year, the hospital was constructed at a cost of nearly $150,000. The people who eagerly watched the building go up had a direct connection with the building. Different organizations also donated time and money into the project, the Libertyville firemen and the Libertyville Kiwanis to name a few. A memorial fund was also established in the name of Dennis Limberry. Limberry served in Libertyville in a variety of positions for many years, including sheriff and fire chief. He died of a heart attack during the hospital’s construction.
The entrance to the hospital in 1957.
The hospital wasn’t just a building to be functional; it was to be practical as well pleasing to the eye. Those responsible for the construction were looking for a building that the people of Libertyville could be proud of. Condell was built in the shape of a cross, so that everyone had an outside room enabling patients a room with sunshine and fresh air. The structure would be a single floor with a two story section to act as the nurses’ quarters.The grounds were to be immaculately kept to help inspire a feeling of comfort and hope. Plans were soon in place to pave the streets leading up to the hospital.
Clipping from the Libertyville Independent in June 1928 taken shortly after the hospital’s opening.
In February of 1928, the construction was almost finished and the hospital had a walk through for the citizens of Libertyville. The walk through gave the people who had given financially as well as emotionally the opportunity to see first hand the hospital that they had helped build. On February 13, over 1000 people attended during the three hour event. Just getting to the event was no small feat. Roads were unreliable in an era where they were most often dirt/mud depending on conditions. Even traveling on foot could be difficult with ice or mud. Town leaders made sure to plank the walkways and make other provisions to ensure safe travel to the site.
Postcard of Condell Hospital from 1950s. Note older cross shaped section to the left.
Not long after the hospital was opened in 1928, the hospital publicity committee started publishing short articles in the local Libertyville Independent newspaper. The articles were to help build up support and acquire funds for the newly established building by informing the public about some of the services that the hospital provided. For example it was stated that the hospital had 148 major and 58 minor surgeries performed at Condell and went on to explain the health and financial benefits of having a hospital so close to home. The main concept was that while it’s wonderful that the building had been constructed, money was required to run and maintain it properly.Since its construction the hospital has provided a convenient place for the people of Libertyville to get their medical care. Over the years the building has been added on to and the name is now the “Advocate Condell Medical Center.” Sadly much of the communal feel that brought it into existence has been largely forgotten and most of the people in modern day Libertyville aren’t aware of the hospital’s origins. Condell was born when the people of the village came together to construct a part of thier community to benefit Libertyville as a whole.

Sources:

  1. “Says Hospital Is a Public Utility.” Libertyville Independent, September 25, 1930, p. 1
  2. “Libertyville Citizens Give Town Hospital.” Chicago Daily Tribune, January 15, 1928, p B1.
  3. “Sick Bay for Suburbanites.” Chicago Daily Tribune, Jan 15, 1928, p. B1.
  4. “Will Lay Cornerstone of Hospital Sunday.” Libertyville Independent, July 14, 1927, p.1.
  5. “Contract is Awarded For A New Hospital.” Libertyville Independent, March 17, 1927, p.1 
  6. “Start Erection of New Hospital In Libertyville.” Libertyville Independent, March 24, 1927, p. 1
  7. “Lay Cornerstone of New Hospital, July 10.” Libertyville Independent, July 14, 1927, p. 1.
  8. “New Hospital Open for Inspection Sunday.” Libertyville Independent, February 9, 1927, p. 1.
  9. “Many People Visited Hospital on Sunday.” Libertyville Independent, February 16, 1927, p. 1.
  10. “Hospital Fills Long Time Need.” Libertyville Independent, September 4, 1930, p. 1.
  11. “Hospital Deserves Community Support.” Libertyville Independent, September 18, 1930, p. 1.
  12. “Hospital is a Public Utility” Libertyville Independent, September 25, 1930, p. 1.

 

2 thoughts on “The Beginnings of the Condell Memorial Hospital

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