Monday, December 7, 2015

The Newcomb Hospital

The story of the Newcomb hospital goes back to the early 1920's. Leverett Newcomb, a prominent attorney from the city, donated six and a half acres of land and $225,000 to erect a new hospital.

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.

23 comments:

  1. So many things can be done with Newcomb I was born there and would have loved to see it used as a campus or updated and made into lofts and shops

    ReplyDelete
  2. To bad it was not kept up. Its a hazard and needs to be dimolished now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My mother was a R.N. there and she painted the walls in the picture displayed above. She painted them two days after 9/11.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. The paintings I'm referring to are the ones of the people holding American flags.

      Delete
  4. Why not renovate it to single living low income apartments and rooms there is a housing shortage I'm CC.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If the buildings are structurally sound...why haven't plans been kicked around for renovating what can be done? Why weren't security devices installed to protect the investment? Storefronts serve a purpose to sell merchandise...hospitals preserve lives.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Unfortunate but typical for Vineland. It used to be such a nice little town when I grew up. It's a testament to the backwards thinking of local politicians who have turned it into a depressing low income hole. So sad :(

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was born there in 1934. It holds many memories for me. I was taken there when I fell at the Landis Theater and broke my arm one night. My tonsils were removed there among other surgeries over the years.

    ReplyDelete
  8. many memories so sad:(

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was born there in 1971. My son was born there in 1991 20 years to the month. I had couple of surgeries there. It was a great hospital.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was born there in 1971. My son was born there in 1991 20 years to the month. I had couple of surgeries there. It was a great hospital.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you all for sharing your memories and stories. Being able to read all of your stories adds another dimension to the story of the life of the hospital.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I too, was born at Newcomb Medical Center, as were all 3 of my children. It's a shame it couldn't have been saved years ago, for either a teaching facility or for low income or elderly/assisted living.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I worked as a speech-language pathologist there for many years. It continued to provide excellent care with a local feel to it. My sister and I were born there. My wife worked as an RN there and our 4 daughters were born there. It is shame that nothing could be done to save this landmark. Another piece of history is about to disappear.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I grew up in Vineland in the early 1960's to mid 1970's. It was a great place to live. I was born in this hospital. Two of my friends mothers worked in here as Nurses. Has anybody given a thought as to what will happen to Mr. Newcomb should this hospital be demolished? I was stunned to see it was empty last trip to Vineland. We need to save this property. Perhaps letters to Chris Christie are in order?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christie would be be the first in line to level the building.

      Delete
  16. I wonder if Donald Trump would want this for his headquarters??

    ReplyDelete
  17. I read some time ago the Landis Theatre which my brother and I grew up going to every Saturday for their matinees, was headed to the demolition block... and spared. The people in Vineland spoke out. I don't know what the condition of the theater was, but it was salvaged. Also not sure how long it sat vacant. I know I had seen several of the windows had been broken, but thankfully it was salvaged and today it still remains. People contacted the director of economic development of Vineland for help. I imagine if enough people were to contact her again, she might show interest and suggest what or how this "landmark" to many of us, can be salvaged? Here is her contact information: Sandy Forosisky
    Economic Development Director
    City of Vineland
    PO BOX 1508
    Vineland, NJ 08362-1508
    United States

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am curious to know, do you suppose this property might serve as a Nursing Home? It has a kitchen where the meals were cooked for the patients in the hospital. If converted to a Nursing Home, it can serve the same purpose. The gift shop would be a nice addition to any nursing home. I would keep the old-fashioned phone booth. The rotunda could serve as a log in for visitors to the nursing home. Elevators would serve to take guests to the different floors. I am not sure if there is a laundry in the building of the hospital. I would think so. It has everything a Nursing home could possibly need. Large parking area as well. Some nursing homes have in-house doctors, so the medical areas do not have to be removed. What does everybody think??

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hello, I am not sure why this article was posted on Monday December 7th, 2015? From what I have found online the demolishion of this hospital HAS ALREADY BEGUN as per article online ... please note the date of June 14th, **2012** Hello??! http://archive.thedailyjournal.com/article/20120615/NEWS01/306150033/Demolition-begins-earnest-Newcomb

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 2012 demolition only took out the power plant. The rest of the hospital has been sitting vacant all this time.

      Delete