Kirkpatrick House

The Kirkpatrick Residence


Kirkpatrick residence demolition 1
Kirkpatrick residence demolition 2
Kirkpatrick residence demolition 3On January 14, 1975, the Kirkpatrick House was torn down to make way for construction of a new pavillion, marking the end of an era.

The Hattie S. Kirkpatrick Residence

As institutions go, the Kirkpatrick House had a relatively short life on the campus of the then named Bartholomew County Hospital.

Hattie S. Kirkpatrick

Opened in 1930, mainly through the donation of longtime Columbus physician Dr. Alva M. Kirkpartick, the two-story structure would serve over the next 45 years as a residence hall for nurses on the staff at the hospital. When it was dedicated Dr. Kirkpatrick asked that it be named in honor of his late wife Hattie.

In a sense its demolition in 1975 not only brought down several tons of bricks but ended a way of life that seems almost foreign today.

When construction began in 1929, the facility was viewed as an incentive whereby the hospital could attract much needed nurses, many of whom would have to come to Columbus from other communities.

Previously nurses had been quartered on the third floor of the hospital, sharing space with patients who were quartered on the floor below.

The new building gave them a sense of freedom they didn't have in the hospital. It was also considered an incentive in that residence there was an addition to their meager monthly pay. In 1940, for instance, starting pay for a nurse was $60 per month. 

Although many of its residents hailed from communities outside Columbus, a number of nurses whose families lived in Columbus chose to stay in the Kirkpatrick House.

Its most famous resident was Olive Murphy who served as chief administrator at the hospital from 1938 to 1967. During that time she made her home in a room at the Kirkpatrick House so she could be near her work.

Martha Franks, a nursing supervisor at Columbus Regional Hospital today, began her working career as one of the residents at Kirkpatrick House. "There were six nurses living there at the time," she recalled. "Each nurse had a small room and we shared a kitchenette."

The accommodations weren't exactly luxurious. The late Sara Picker recalled in a 2006 interview that she was initially assigned only a bed in the attic when she was hired in 1940. It would be several months before she was provided a room of her own.

By 1975, the Kirkpatrick House had outlived its original intent. Nurses preferred to choose their own quarters, reducing the number of residents. A portion of the building had been set aside for classrooms and that year the hospital's Board of Trustees, launched an expansion project, deciding to order the razing of the building.