Faxton Hospital, Utica's 4th hospital, opened 148 years ago

1875, 148 years ago

$50,000 gift

Utica's population is growing so rapidly, it soon will need another hospital, said Theodore S. Faxton, wealthy Utica businessman and benefactor. So, he built one.

The three-story, 30-bed Faxton Hospital opened 148 years ago this week on the northwest corner of Perkins Avenue (later renamed Sunset Avenue) and Burrstone Road. It joined the city's three other hospitals: Utica State Hospital (first patient admitted in 1843), City Hospital (on the southwest corner of Mohawk and South streets and opened in 1858) and St. Elizabeth Hospital (the city's first private hospital, which opened in 1866).

When Faxton was told that it would cost $44,524 to purchase the land for his hospital and build it, he donated $50,000 to the project and said that the remaining $5,476 was to be set aside to help maintain the building. Most of the equipment and furniture were paid for by donations from parishioners at the city's Protestant churches and other interested in the project.

Faxton's first medical staff included Dr. Alonzo Churchill, surgeon-in-chief; Dr. Samuel Wolcott, visiting surgeon, and visiting physicians Dr. Isaac Douglas, Dr. Moses Bagg and Dr. William Russell. The board of trustees consisted of: William Bacon, Truman Butler, Moses Bagg, Edward Brayton, Samuel Campbell, Theodore Pomeroy, Henry Roberts, George Thomas, Nicholas Vedder, Robert Williams and Faxton.

Faxton was born in Conway, Massachusetts, in 1794 (and died in 1881 at age 87). He moved to Utica in 1812 at age 18 and got a job driving stagecoaches. By the time he was 20, he had earned the reputation as the most skilled driver in the region. He and his wife – Irene Miller Alverson – lived at 58 Lafayette St. (just west of Genesee Street).

His list of achievements was a long one and included: running and owning packet boats on the Erie Canal, the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario; one of the founders and president of the Utica & Black River Railroad; a founder of the Utica Water Works Co.; and owner of the Utica Steam Cotton Mill; the Second National Bank and the Buffalo, Albany and New York Telegraph Co. He was a very religious man and headed the committee that built the First Presbyterian Church on the northwest corner of Columbia and Washington streets. It was said that in every pocket of every suit he owned was a copy of the Lord's Prayer.

Faxton Hospital still stands.

In late May 1945 — just two weeks after World War II ended in Europe — U.S. Sen. James Mead of New York, left, visited Rhoads Army Hospital  on Burrstone Road and suggested to Col. Austin J. Canning, the hospital’s commanding officer, right, that there was a possibility that the hospital could continue operating after the war ended. Mead said the hospital was in an ideal location and had modern facilities. He added that it could be operated by the Veterans Administration. A great idea, but it never happened.

1923, 100 years ago

Harding's condition

The Observer-Dispatch is flooded with hundreds of calls asking for the latest condition of President Warren G. Harding. They are told that he shows signs of improvement  after being taken seriously ill with ptomaine poisoning and pneumonia.(He died days later on Aug. 2 at age 57.)

1948, 75 years ago

Police 'get tough'

Utica police begin a "get tough" campaign to nab motorists  who speed and ignore stop signs and traffic lights. It is the result of public alarm over the death rate and injuries in traffic accidents in recent months. Six people have died on city streets.

1973, 50 years ago

Kopernik monument

Michael M. Dziedzik, of Floyd Avenue in New York Mills, is general chairman for the Kopernik Memorial Association's fundraising drive to raise money to purchase a monument honoring Nicolaus Copernicus (Kopernik). He is the Polish astronomer who, 500 years ago, said that the Earth was a moving planet that revolved around the sun and that the sun, not Earth, was the center of the universe. (His statue today is on the corner of Genesee and Eagles streets, across from Fountain Elms.)

B'nai B'rith, Utica Lodge 1844, installs officers: Otto Grausz, president; Harry V. Savett, first vice president; David Kay, second vice president; Seymour Levine, financial secretary, and Gerald Ross, corresponding secretary.

1998, 25 years ago

Edmonds collection

Walter D. Edmonds, who died last January at age 94, leaves his working library and extensive collection of literary papers to Utica College (today Utica University). Frank Bergmann, dean of the faculty and professor of English and German, will be curator of the material. "He had a pretty impressive collection of works on New York state and we are delighted," says Bergmann. Bergmann was instrumental in getting a series of Edmonds' out-of-print works reprinted by the Syracuse University Press. He also helped to arrange two visits by Edmonds to Utica College, where he was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree. Among Edmonds' most popular novels are, "Drums Along the Mohawk," "Erie Waters," "Rome Haul" and "The Boyds of Black River."

Cindy Krause is elected president of the Players of Utica. Other officers include: Dan Fusillo and Jane Metzger, vice presidents; Pat Cannon, recording secretary; Gemma Siringo, corresponding secretary; Carl Austin, treasurer, and Carol Sours, historian. Jennifer Bennett receives the organization's "Youth Award" for being an "invaluable youth volunteer."

Ed Paparella of Utica is appointed district governor of Rotary District 7150. It consists of 43 Rotary Clubs from Little Falls to Auburn … about 2,000 members. He is a lifelong resident of the area  and currently is a board member of Utica Head Start and an active member of the NAACP, Cornhill Community for Change and past chairman of the Greater Utica United Way fundraising drive.

2013, 10 years ago

A judge's welcome

Judge David N. Hurd of Rome, of the U.S. District Court Northern Division, welcomes and swears in 46 new citizens in naturalization ceremonies in the Alexander Pirnie Federal Building on Broad Street in Utica. He has presided over the ceremonies dozens of time and says it is one of the favorite parts of his job. Peggy O'Shea, who heads the Community Foundation for Herkimer and Oneida Counties, was main speaker.

Members of the All-Mohawk Valley High School Softball Team are: Amy Hart of Little Falls, Ashley Rueger of Oriskany, Nicole Cring of Cooperstown, Melanie Klauser of Whitesboro, Korey Bunal of Holland Patent, Lindsey Parese of Herkimer, Jess Welsh of Hamilton, Mariah Gibson of Clinton, Carissa Tasovec of West Canada Valley, Emily Acquaviva of New Hartford, Rebecca Rogers of Hamilton, Alex Kimmel of Rome Free Academy, Emily Smith of Camden, Emily LaSalle of Oneida, Carly Dziekan of New York Mills, Meriah Beauvais of Stockbridge, Maggie Hall of Cooperstown and Kylie Kaiding of Adirondack. Jenna Didio, of Oneida, is "player of the year" and David Bliss, of Cooperstown, is "coach of the year."

Trivia quiz

Lyndon Baines Johnson was the second U.S. president to be a member of the Disciples of Christ, a Protestant denomination founded in the United States in the early 1800s. Who was the first president to belong to the denomination? (a) James Monroe, (b) James A. Garfield, (c) Chester A. Arthur or (d) Calvin Coolidge. (Answer will appear here next week.)

Answer to last week's question: Gerald Ford, 38th president of the United States from 1974 to 1977, graduated in 1935 from the University of Michigan, where he was linebacker and center on its football team. He was voted its "most valuable player" and was offered contracts to play pro ball by the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. He turned down the offers to study law at Yale University.

This Week in History is researched and written by Frank Tomaino. E-mail him at ftomaino221@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Faxton Hospital opened 148 years ago, funded by philanthropist