Ladies Benevolent Home Built in 1887
According to a city guide, Spotlight on Wichita ’92, "The first health care facility in Wichita, the ‘Rescue Home,’ was opened in 1879 by a group of local women. This predecessor to St. Joseph’s Medical Center was founded to serve women and children, but provided care for a variety of patients, including cowboys with gunshot wounds." Located on South Market Street, it was later chartered as the Ladies Benevolent Home and cared for homeless and sick.
In 1887, the "home" was moved to 1021 S. St. Francis. At the time, this was on the outskirts of the city, and 30 patients could be accommodated.
Mary Myers Edmonds, in her work, An Historical Survey of Social Service in Wichita, Kansas from 1870 to 1934, said that by about 1912 "the old Rescue Home on South St. Francis had fallen into private hands and had developed an unsavory reputation." In theory it "was supposed to be operated under the auspices of the Mission of Redeeming Love." In fact "the overseers of the home were self-seeking and the greater part of the money which they solicited from house to house was divided among themselves." Edmonds went on to state that the home "became little more than a house of prostitution. It was eventually investigated by city police matrons and shortly afterwards closed."
In 1898, a new England philanthropist donated the Martinson block at Douglas and Seneca to the home, which was converted into the Wichita Hospital.
In 1925, the Sisters of St. Joseph took over the financially troubled hospital. Under their supervision, it grew to the point that a second facility was needed. St. Joseph Hospital was built in 1944 near Harry and Hillside. With the completion of a new wing at St. Joseph’s in 1961, Wichita Hospital closed.