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Augusta General Hospital

From Cony Street walk away from the river. Arsenal Street is the first street off to the right. Just beyond the Memorial Bridge overpass, the MaineGeneral Medical Center stands where the Augusta General Hospital stood, at the intersection of Chestnut and Arsenal streets. (Fort Western and Augusta City Hall are visible off to the right.) This site is rich in Augusta history: Augusta’s first mayor lived here in a grand mansion. The building later became a finishing school for young women, then later the early hospital.

 
Augusta General Hospital had its beginning in 1898, across the river on Crosby Street. Among the first patients were soldiers returning from the Spanish-American War. At the turn of the century, the hospital purchased and renovated the buildings of St. Catherine’s Hall, at the corner of Arsenal and East Chestnut where the current hospital sits. Training for nurses was an integral part of the early hospital, and nursing students lived in the main hospital building. The student nurse quarters were moved to separate building in 1906 because of an increase in the number of patients. The original buildings were torn down to make way for the modern hospital. This elegant Revival building, reminiscent of a Southern plantation, housed Augusta City Hospital beginning in 1900. The hospital later changed its name to Augusta General, and today the business survives as Maine-General Medical Center. Before serving as a hospital, the mansion housed an Episcopal finishing school for girls, St. Catherine’s Hall, from 1868 to 1900, and earlier was home to Augusta’s first mayor, Alfred Redington. Redington built the house in 1836, the year before he married Elizabeth Williams. Elizabeth enjoyed her elegant home for about a year before she died. Redington sold the house in 1839, after he lost his fortune in the failure of the early Kennebec Dam, and the house had a number of occupants before being purchased for the school. Even with the many purposes the building served, the façade never changed, and it was a landmark of the city. Tragically, the building was torn down in 1966 to make a small parking lot for the hospital.

St. Catherine’s Hall, an Episcopal finishing school for girls, was founded in the 1868 in the 1837 mansion of Augusta’s first mayor, General Alfred Redington. After the school closed, buildings were purchased (around 1900) and converted for hospital use. Over time, the mansion was renovated, reshaped, and finally demolished. The remaining vestiges of the school are the name of a street behind the hospital and the chapel that was moved to 60 Bangor Street (in 1892), where it stands today as Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church.

Lucy Hayward Barker, a Maine artist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is associated with Augusta because she attended St. Catherine’s Hall. By rights, Lucy is an Aroostook County woman, having been born in Portage Lake and having lived much of her life in Presque Isle, but Augusta can note her as an adopted daughter. She spent two years at St. Catherine’s Hall after finishing St. John’s Academy (high school) in Presque Isle. After school in Augusta, Lucy studied art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (1892 to 1898), then opened a studio there, where she painted until 1906. At the Museum School, she studied with noted American Impressionists Frank Benson, Philip Hale, and Edmund Tarbell. Lucy was a gifted portrait painter who created realistic, sensitive images of people, yet without sentimentality. She married long-time beau Roy Barker in 1906 and returned to Maine. She suspended her career for almost a quarter of a century while she raised her family, but she took up painting again in 1929, at age fifty-six. Most of her work is held in private collections, but pieces can be seen at the Farnsworth Library and Art Museum in Rockland, at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Portland, at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, at Colby College, and at Bates College.

Cornelia “Fly Rod” Crosby also attended St. Catherine’s Hall, as did the daughters of many prominent Maine families. “Fly Rod” was an early enthusiast of outdoor recreation and one of the earliest and most ardent promoters of Maine as a place for outdoor recreation. “Fly Rod” founded the Maine Guide Service and was Maine’s first Registered Guide. Her life is chronicled in Fly Rod Crosby -- The Woman Who Marketed Maine, by Julia Hunter and Earle Shettleworth, Jr.

From 1898 to 1922, Mrs. Sarah Holden Hayden was the superintendent of Augusta General Hospital. In 1926, the Nurses Alumnae Association recognized her stewardship of the institution with a memorial plaque. Other women recognized for their contributions to the hospital include Olive E. Penney, “A faithful worker for humanity and a friend of the hospital, 1869-1923,” Sadie Hill Gannett, Mary Sawtelle Edwards, and Harriet Williams Fuller.

Site 6.1 Sources:

 

Augusta, Maine Sesquicentennial. Special reprint of Daily Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine, Sesquicentennial Edition, Wednesday, July 30, 1947.

 

Faith Communities of Augusta, Maine - Past and Present. A City Bicentennial Project under the auspices of the Augusta Clergy Association, 1997.

 

Hunter, Julia and Earle Shettleworth, Jr. "Fly Rod Crosby: The Woman Who Marketed Maine." Paper delivered at the Washburn Humanities Seminar, June 7-9, 2001, Norlands Living History Center, Livermore, Maine.

 

Hunter, Julia and Earle Shettlewrorth, Jr. Fly Rod Crosby: The Woman Who Marketed Maine. Gardiner, ME: Tilbury House and Friends of the Maine State Museum, 2000.

 

Scott, Gail R. Lucy Hayward Barker (1872-1948): Portrait Artist from Maine. Presque Isle, ME: University of Maine at Presque Isle, 1997.

 

Tour of MaineGeneral Hospital by the author, 18 May 2001.

 

"Women Pioneers in Maine Art, 1900-1945." Exhibit Program, April 9-May 19, 1985. The Joan Whitney Payson Gallery of Art. Westbrook College, Portland, ME.

The University of Maine