|Old postcared of the Newcomb Hospital|
He wanted his hospital to be the cutting edge of modern medicine. Constructed in 1924 with its own power station and x ray machine, the new hospital was certainly living up to expectations. Mr. Newcomb only wanted two things in return for his generous donation. He wanted the hospital to be named for him, unlike all the other regional hospitals named by the towns they were constructed in. His second request was that he be buried on the hospital's property.
Mr. Newcomb died on September 16th, 1926, and as per his request he was buried underneath a beech tree in the parking lot of the hospital. Though the hospital would go on to change significantly over the years, he would remain buried in this same spot.
In the summer of 1959, a new wing was added to the right of the small three story original building. This was only the beginning of the hospitals expansion however.
By 1967, a five story edition was built onto the edition from the decade prior. The building was also expanded on the first floor all the way back to the power plant behind the original structure. The new expansion would take months to complete.
Over the years the Newcomb hospital maintained the purpose with which it was built, becoming one f the largest healthcare providers for all of Cumberland County. At its peak, the hospital had 235 beds spread out through 300,000 square feet of building space. The hospital had come a long way from when it was just a small three story building.
Unfortuneately over the years, the original hospital building was heavily updated. The only room to survive over those 80 years of countless renovations was the rotunda. A large round room with a compass rose style terrazzo floor and decorative marble pillars all the way around the perimeter.
Despite all of the growth over the years, the hospital began to lose many of their patients to the other, more modern facilities in other parts of Vineland. It was sold to the South Jersey Healthcare Group, who went on to close the facility in 2004.
Over the next four years, the hospital fell into disrepair. In 2008, the hospital was sold to the Danza group. The group received a six million dollar urban enterprise zone loan in order to jump start development on the blighted property.
The hospital appeared to have caught a break in 2012, when the UMDNJ had an interest in taking over the structure and operating it as a teaching hospital. However, Governor Christie's budget cuts stripped out the university and left it unable to expand as it planned. The Danza group resorted to trying to track down other buyers, but was left sitting on the property for several more years.
Finally in 2015, The Danza Affiliate organization for the hospital announced plans to chop up the property and build mostly assisted living units on the site of the hospital. However, the proposal also called for 11,000 square feet of existing Newcomb hospital building space to be renovated and reincorporated back into the new plans for the property. Included in these plans are at least a portion of the original facade, which is a relief for preservationists after a huge wave of demolition in 2015 saw the demise of seven different disused hospitals across the state.
In December of 2015, a news article ran about the hospital, stating that demolition was scheduled to begin in February of the following year. Developers said that the facility was too heavily vandalized and decayed to save, which was not far from the truth. Over a decade of neglect left the developers with no other realistic option. With only one room original to the construction of the building, it wasn't very hard for me to find myself agreeing. While the hospital served a noble purpose, it now only stands a a testament to the failure of both the he healthcare and historic preservation systems in place of this country. Nobody wants a constant reminder of their failures shoved into their face every day.