From the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY …On March 1, 1896, The hospital, formerly located on North Ann Street, was moved to larger quarters at the Ackerman property at 610 West Monroe Street. Future plans call for the erection of a new building once the hospital association is in shape fiscally.

14 North Ann Street | First Hospital at Little Falls 1893 | Little Falls Historical Society’s Walking / Driving Tour of Historic Homes and Places in Little Falls, New York | Stop No. 11

Dr. James Kennedy Little Falls’ first doctor came to the area around 1797, before Little Falls was a village, and had his residence and office at 10 Church Street. In May 1824, he sold his business and property to Dr. Hosea Hamilton and Dr. John Dygert. Doctors came and went with most of them having offices along Ann and Albany streets – but there was no hospital.

On November 15, 1893, the first hospital in Herkimer County opened, with four rooms for patients, in a rented house that had been renovated, at 14 North Ann Street in Little Falls. The location of the hospital was between the current Sunoco gas station and Ann Street Liquors, across the street from the former Rialto Theater. Mrs. E. B. Waite headed a group of thirteen women who raised $1,800 to fund the project. Mrs. Jennie Johnson was matron, and the one nurse was Miss Keegan. Mr. William Hoover was the first patient admitted to the new hospital and was diagnosed with Typhoid Fever. Twenty-six patients were treated during the first year of operation. When needed, additional nurses were obtained from Faxton Hospital in Utica.

On March 20, 1894, the Little Falls Hospital Association became a legal entity, and the all-female board of trustees was made up of twenty trustees and eighty-one members. On November 10, 1894, Dr. Stephen A. Ingham, assisted by Drs. Gildman, Garlock, and Douglas, performed the first appendectomy at the Little Falls Hospital. The patient, Miss Emma Shear, had a remarkable recovery. The 14 North Ann Street facility soon outgrew its quarters and on March 1, 1896, the hospital was moved to the Ackerman property at 610 East Monroe Street. They helped 170 patients that year.

More space was necessary, so a lot was purchased on the corner of Burwell and Whited streets and a two-story brick building was built in the early 1900s. The city appropriated $1,200 per year for the hospital. In 1936 a large, modern addition, designed by Little Falls native, Dwight James Baum, was built west of the initial building. In 1962, the hospital built a new modern facility in addition to the other buildings. Today, the Little Falls Hospital, now affiliated with Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, provides 25 acute, swing and special care beds, a large emergency department, advanced diagnostic equipment, and specialists provided by Bassett. It is the only acute care facility in Herkimer County. It has opened two clinics to care for patients, one adjacent to the hospital and a second in nearby Dolgeville.
It is interesting to note that even before the first Little Falls Hospital, there was a private hospital in Little Falls. After graduating from Dartmouth Medical College in 1889, Dr. Edgar Douglas returned to Little Falls and purchased the Charles Benedict property at 547 Garden Street, on the corner of Garden and North Mary streets. He rebuilt the property into his office and a small four-bed hospital in the east end of the building.

10 Church Street | Dr. James Kennedy House | Little Falls Historical Society’s Walking / Driving Tour of Historic Homes and Places in Little Falls, New York | Stop No. 10

The first doctor at Little Falls was Doctor James Kennedy, who arrived in the city in 1797. In 1808, Dr. Kennedy leased lots 2 and 3 on Church Street, from the Ellice Estate. He paid rent of $6. annually for these two lots. He built a house at 10 Church Street in 1808 which was also the site of his medical practice.

During this time patients were treated in their homes or in local hotels, and operations were often performed on the patient’s kitchen table. There was much agitation within the community for the establishment of a local hospital, however one did not open in the village until November 1893 at 14 North Ann Street.
Dr. Kennedy was admitted to the Herkimer County Medical Society in 1808. In 1815 he owned two slaves, which were valued at $300. Dr. Kennedy’s wife, Lucy, became ill in September of 1816 and died on June 24, 1817. Lucy, a professor of religion, was the daughter of Ozias Wilcox from Middletown, Connecticut.

Dr. Kennedy was on the building committee in 1818 for the Octagon Church which was essentially across the street from his home and office. On May 17, 1824, Dr. James Kennedy sold his medical business and home on Church Street to Dr. Hosea Hamilton and John Dygert.

The growth and development of the Police Department began with town constables when Little Falls was part of the town of Herkimer. The local sheriff had considerable power, and when John Dygert became the first sheriff of Herkimer County in 1826, he moved the sheriff’s office to 10 Church Street in Little Falls, with the county jail being built in the village of Herkimer in 1834. In early times, before streetlamps, a candle was left in the window of every third or fourth house to give protection to those passing by. A watch by volunteers was also organized to patrol the streets to guard against fires and prowlers. When he completed his term for sheriff, John Dygert was elected president of the Village of Little Falls for the term of 1829-1830.

*Digitizing of Historical Photos by Gail & Mike Potter, FROM THE COONEY ARCHIVES: THIS DAY IN HISTORY by Louis Baum, JR, and article compiled by Darlene Smith

Visit the Little Falls Hostorical Society’s Walking / Driving Tour of Historic Homes and Places at Little Falls, New York.

The Little Falls Historical Society’s Old Bank Building Museum is open by appointment only for the winter season. For a FREE tour of the museum, please contact either Louis Baum @ 315-823-3527, Mary Ann Terzi @ 315-823-1502, or Jeffery Gressler @ 315-823-2799 to schedule an appointment.