After an intense investigation into options to save the former nurses' residence at St. Luke's Hospital Miners Campus, the administration and board of directors have reached the decision to demolish the building.
The original 1934 nurses' residence of Coaldale State General Hospital still stands to the rear of the present hospital building. It served the hospital from 1934 to 1973.
Located at the eastern end of Schuylkill County, the hospital itself was known by various names over the years; such as Panther Creek Valley Hospital, Coaldale State General Hospital, Miners Memorial Medical Center, Carbon-Schuylkill Community Hospital, Inc., St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital and now as St. Luke's Hospital - Miners Campus.
A special wing dedicated to nurses' training and to serve as a nurses' residence was begun in 1927 when the ground was broken near the hospital. But it soon hit a rocky road. At the time, local residents were experiencing difficult times and it just wasn't the best time to embark on a major project.
However, construction continued at the new wing until 1929 when it came to a grinding halt. At that point, money had dried up.
The project stood idle for about four years until work was resumed through funding achieved through the government's new Works Project Administration. The program, which put America back to work, led to the completion of the nurses' wing in 1934.
In the earliest days, some of the rooms were utilized as doctors' living quarters. The wing served the hospital in many different capacities over the years, before being vacated in 1973.
"After researching the financial feasibility of salvaging this building, we have reached the conclusion that we need to remove the former nurses' residence," said Bill Moyer, president of St. Luke's Miners Hospital. "With input from our board of trustees, donors and community leaders, we have agreed that our first priority must be patient care, and we accomplish that by continuing to attract highly-qualified doctors and expanding our services."
The building was constructed in 1934 to house the nurses who cared for the patients in the original Miners Hospital and was also used as a hospital during the construction of the "new" building in 1973.
The nurses' residence has remained vacant for the past 40 years and has reached a point where a significant investment would have to be made to save it, according to Moyer.
"The beautiful building, a Colonian Revival style, has been in disrepair for a long period of time," said Dale Freudenberger, president, Tamaqua Historical Society. "It is a shame to lose such a prized landmark."
"It is a very historic building for the coal region," said Bob Perrin, who is hoping to form the Coaldale Historical Society. "The hospital, and its history, serve as a big part of our coal region's rich heritage."
The contractor has been given the notice to proceed, so the work could begin anytime.