Hospitals in Fort Collins

Hospital pic will go here. 

Military Post Hospital (corner Pine and Jefferson): 1864 – 1867
Christian White’s Hospital (in Loomis Addition): 1893 – ?
Cherry Hospital (1011 Remington): 1903 -1905(?)
McHugh Hospital (215 E. Oak): 1906 –
County Hospital (Hospital Road): 1901 – 1925
County Hospital (Hospital Road), new building: 1925

The Military Hospital

On November 5th, T. M. Smith, acting assistant surgeon, was granted permission to proceed to Denver for the purpose of procuring medical supplies for the post. When the Eleventh Ohio troops were withdrawn from the post and sent home to be discharged, Dr. Smith remained in Fort Collins and was the first physician to locate permanently in the county. He afterwards became a prominent citizen, and in 1872 was elected County Treasurer and was also one of the charter members of the Collins lodge No. 19 of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons. He went to Virginia in 1882 and died there a few years later. (Ansel Watrous, The History of Larimer County, Colorado. Page 220.)

First Hospital in Fort Collins

There’s mention in an article about John R. Brown that references an old hospital building he bought and started a blacksmith shop in. It was located on the corner where A. H. Patterson later put an agricultural warehouse. (Fort Collins Courier, February 15, 1883) Based on the map that was drawn up of the layout of the fort, this fits with the location of the military hospital, which would have stood on the eastern corner of the intersection of Jefferson and Pine.

According to Stanley W. Henson, Jr., Md, author of the book Touching Lives: A History of Medicine in Fort Collins, the first hospital in the community of Fort Collins was built in 1893. “In 1893, Christian White built a frame dwelling in the city of Fort Collins and fitted up part of it as a hospital, where he gave nursing care. He was an old soldier who was a nurse in the hospital wards of the Army and the Navy, and he served as superintendent of the County Poor Farm for five years. This was apparently the first attempt to establish a hospital in Fort Collins. The building was later demolished when the railroad track was laid along Jefferson street.” (Henson, Touching Lives, p. 15.) Henson seemed to have the location of the hospital wrong, however. He describes the location of the military hospital, but according to the Fort Collins Courier, White’s hospital was in the Loomis Addition on the west side of town. 

“A new frame dwelling house is being erected in the Loomis addition for Mr. Christian White. Mr. White, who is an experienced hospital nurse, will fit up a portion of the building for a hospital.” (Fort Collins Courier, October 19, 1893)

“Plasterers are working on C. White’s hospital.” (Fort Collins Courier, January 4, 1894)

County Pest House, Old Folks Home, and Poor Farm

The first mention of a poor house in Larimer County comes in 1884 in the midst of another story: “On Monday evening last, Mr. Lewis Wetzler, who lives west of town near the county poor farm, met with a shocking accident by which he loses his left hand.” (Fort Collins Courier, March 20, 1884)

“Mr. J. T. Rogers, superintendent of the poor farm, made verbal report to the board of the condition of the county poor under his care.” (Fort Collins Courier, November 14, 1889)

The poor farm must not have been much to speak of because in 1890, the following appears in the paper.

“A County Poor Farm. To the Editor of the Courier. There has been considerable discussion of late in various portions of the county regarding the advisability of the purchase of a poor farm by the county commissioners for the benefit of the indigent poor of our county, and the concensus of opinion is that it should be done. In our opinion this should be done right away. A good 160 acre tract, with requisite water rights, can be had now at as low figures as in the future, and if secured now and fruit trees set out and the farm otherwise improved as it should be, it would not be long before all the indigent poor of the county could be well taken care of and furnished a good comfortable home. Such a plan, it seems to me, is preferable to the system now in vogue in this county. TAXPAYER.” (Fort Collins Courier, April 24, 1890)

The poor farm was not a hospital. It was, as the name implies, a farm. Those of indigent circumstances could live there, working the fields and eating the produce. The poor farm included an “old folks home,” which was the nursing home of the day, as well as a “pest house,” which was where those who were ill went to die. (The word “pest” was likely shortened from “pestilence.” A person suffering from the plague, or any contagious disease, was a “pest.”) Eventually a hospital was added to the poor farm.


Fort Collins Courier, December 12, 1889

Fort Collins Courier, May 11, 1893

Second Hospital in Fort Collins

“One of the most commendable enterprises yet undertaken in Fort Collins is the new hospital. The institution is located at 1011 Remington street and will be known as the Cherry hospital. The location is perfect, being removed from the noise and bustle of the city, and the surroundings are most congenial. The building itself could hardly be improved upon if built especially for hospital purposes. It is divided into two wards, upstairs and down, ten rooms in all. They are all large, well lighted and ventilated, and a good view can be had from each one. The building is electric lighted throughout. The furniture is such only as is required in a sick room, but is of a fine quality and cozily arranged, each room being furnished with an iron bedstead, and oak dresser with large plate mirror, and two rockers. The windows are draped with white lace curtains and the floors are laid with soft rugs. A fine bath is provided on the second floor. The reception room is on the first floor and is very tastily arranged. The operating room is also on the first floor. Besides the regulation operating table, it will be furnished with all the necessary scientific appliances. On the east front of the house is a large veranda, a most inviting place for convalescent patients to spend the afternoon.
“Miss Cherry will have full charge as head nurse and will provide such other nurses as may be required. Miss Cherry finished her training at the University hospital in Kansas City, and during the past two years has been very successful in the practice of her profession in Fort Collins. Since December 26, 1902, she has nursed 42 cases at her own home for Dr. McHugh, 26 of which were important surgical operations, and everyone proved a success. From the number of cases requiring hospital care coming to her in this way, it was apparent that she needed more rooms and the establishment of a regularly equipped hospital was decided upon with Dr. McHugh as dean and acting head surgeon. A regular staff will probably be organized, the members to be selected from among the best physicians in the city.
“The need of such an institution has long been felt in Fort Collins by physicians and others, and it was but little short of an inspiration that prompted its establishment. Hitherto important surgical cases have had to be sent to the Denver hospitals for treatment at great expense, and oftentimes at great risk to the life of the patient. There are very few homes in the city where the surroundings are of a character to make it convenient and safe to perform even ordinary surgical operations, much less difficult and dangerous ones, therefore the opening of a well-equipped hospital in Fort Collins is one of the greatest blessings that could have been visited upon the community.” (The Weekly Courier, May 27, 1903)”

Miss Cherry was Miss Clementine Vienna Cherry, born March 1880 or ’81. She died in 1968 and was buried in Nebraska. But she lived in Kansas City for a number of years as well. Her gravestone had written on it, “Dedicated Lifetime Nurse.”

“Mr. Uhlig, the injured foreman brought down from the ditch camp on Thursday, was taken to Mrs. Cherry’s hospital instead of to the county hospital as stated. He is doing nicely. (The Weekly Courier, April 29, 1903)

Third Hospital in Fort Collins

From The Weekly Courier, February 14, 1906.


McHugh set up a hospital behind his residence at some point. It looks like it probably happened around the end of 1905 or early January 1906.

“WANTED AT ONCE Two girls to learn nursing at Dr. P. J. McHugh’s hospital.” (The Weekly Courier, January 3, 1906)


County Hospital

The first Larimer County hospital was installed in the second-story of the poor house in 1901.

“Contract awarded to Geo. W. King for building hospital addition to county poor house at $1,170, his bid for same being the lowest.” (The Weekly Courier, January 17, 1901)

“The County Hospital. Larimer county is justly proud of its excellent poor farm and of the way in which it and its charges have been managed and handled in the past. Not a breath of scandal has ever marred its usefulness nor detracted from its good name. The indigent poor of the county have here found a home and friends and have been cared for with conscientious solicitude, provided with comforts not usually found in such institutions and made to feel, notwithstanding their misfortunes, that this is not so bard and cold a world after all. The farm has been well cultivated and made to produce much that is consumed in the poor house. An orchard of thrifty looking fruit trees has been planted on the farm, and everything on and about the premises is kept in good order. The buildings are in fine condition and bear an attractive and home like appearance. The poor house a large, comfortable and well furnished two story building, stands in a beautiful grove, the approach to it being across a well kept lawn, furnishing ample grounds and delightful resting places for the inmates in the summer season. Only the first floor of the building is used for poor house purposes, there being ample accommodations in the matter of sleeping rooms, sitting rooms, kitchen, pantry, bathrooms, etc. for all the inmates and their attendants. The second floor has recently been arranged for a hospital. Here there are two large wards, one for males and the other for females, operating room, two extra sleeping apartments, a kitchen, bath room, closets, etc, all admirably arranged for their several purposes. A broad corridor extends the whole length of the building, and facing south is a wide balcony. This extends clear across the front of the building and is covered, making it an excellent resting place for invalids in good weather. The rooms are all nicely finished and will be neatly and comfortably furnished. The hospital is well lighted and is supplied with hot and cold water. A little to one side is another building in which patients suffering from contagious diseases are housed, cared for and treated. During the past two years the poor house and poor farm has been under the care and management of Mr. T. J. Collins who will retire April 1st, with most an enviable record for good service rendered the county in that position. Mr. Christian White will succeed Mr. Collins. Larimer county takes most excellent care of its unfortunates.” (The Weekly Courier, March 28, 1901)

“An ice house is to be built for the use of the poor farm and county hospital.” (The Weekly Courier, January 23, 1902)

“Bill of Larimer county for care of small pox patients at county hospital amounting to $938.80.” (The Weekly Courier, September 17, 1902)

“The county commissioners have decided to add ten rooms to the county hospital on the poor farm and have called for bids for the construction of the same. No institution of the kind in the state has a better reputation than Larimer county’s splendidly conducted county hospital, and the contemplated improvements will serve to increase its usefulness and add to its good name.” (The Weekly Courier, July 22, 1903)

“Contract Let.
“Bids for building the addition to the county hospital were opened by the county commissioners on Wednesday, and the contract for the work was awarded to John A. Bell on his bid. The job is to be completed on or before September 15. The bids were as follows:
“John A. Bell $ 900 00
“A. C. Middaugh 971 00
“R. B. Leonard 935 00
“Garnick & Son 1,037 00” (The Weekly Courier, July 29, 1903)

“The new addition to the county hospital is in the hands of the plasterers.” (The Weekly Courier, August 12, 1903)

“The addition to the county hospital is almost ready for use.” (The Weekly Courier, September 2, 1903)

“Chris White, who has so ably and so efficiently managed tho affairs of the county poor farm and county hospital for several years, as superintendent, has been admonished by breaking health to take a rest and has therefore resigned. His resignation was accepted last Saturday and the board of county commissioners immediately appointed Robert Walsh to fill the vacancy. It is extremely doubtful if the commissioners could have made a better choice than they did in selecting Mr. Walsh, who is a gentleman of mature years, genial, kind hearted and considerate.” (The Weekly Courier, October 7, 1903)