Children's Orthopedic Hospital Association opens Fresh Air House on June 1, 1908.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 10/23/2003
  • Essay 4253

On June 1, 1908, the Children's Orthopedic Hospital Association opens Fresh Air House on property purchased on Queen Anne Hill. Sometimes called Fresh Air Cottage, the frame structure houses convalescing patients who have been operated on at Seattle General Hospital. There is room for 12 patients and a matron. In 1911, a three-story hospital will open next to the cottage.

Hospital Trustee Maude Parsons is credited with locating the property on Queen Anne Hill. As a member of the Association's Building and Grounds Committee, she traveled by streetcar all over Seattle searching out likely properties for a hospital to serve crippled children. At the suggestion of another trustee, Parsons climbed the stairs of the water tower on Queen Anne Hill where she could see the neighborhood. She spotted three vacant lots on Warren Avenue between Boston and Crockett. The location was ideal, being on streetcar lines and distant from the noise and pollution of downtown.

The trustees bought the lots for $5,500. Parsons entered into a contract with the board to build the cottage. Not all the neighbors were thrilled with the new institution and they combined to block the building permit before the Board of Public Works and the City Council. Dr. James E. Crichton represented the neighbors and state, stating that "the institution would be an offense to the residents of the vicinity by reason of the nature of the cases it will receive" (CHRMC Archives). The neighbors suggested that the convalescing children be relegated to the "Pesthouse" on Beacon Hill where the County lodged contagious disease cases. Despite neighborhood opposition, the permits were approved.

The children were cared for by nurse Mabel Hardie. At the time, crippled children were often kept out of school because of their disabilities. The trustees arranged for a teacher from the Seattle School Board to tutor patients. The trustees built a fence within the property line to allow planting of a hedge.

The hedge was to serve as "a screen for the children against any person who might be offended by the sight of them" (Minutes of the Board of Trustees, CHRMC) and would help keep out intruders. It also shielded children during construction of the new building. Fresh Air House served young patients until 1911, when a proper, three-story hospital opened on the same block. The cottage became variously a nurses' residence and an isolation ward. Children's Orthopedic Hospital moved to Laurelhurst in 1954.


Minutes of the Board of Directors, Children's Orthopedic Hospital Association, Boxes 2-6, Children's Hospital Archives (Accession 3530), Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle; Folder "Data*** Re: Founding of Hospital," typescript pages of notes and extracts probably by Emilie Schwabacher, Box 12, Children's Hospital Archives (Accession 3530), Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle; Emilie B. Schwabacher, A Place for Children (Seattle: Children's Hospital and Medical Center, 1992).

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