257 Jefferson Avenue - Danville General Hospital

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The building located at 257 Jefferson Avenue near the intersection of Loyal Street and Jefferson Avenue was formerly the Danville General Hospital. The Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates for the site are W 36 degrees 34.946’, N 079 degrees 23.672’, Elevation 490’.

Jane Gray Hagan in her book, “The Story of Danville” published in 1950 gives a history of hospitals in Danville including the one that stood at 257 Jefferson Avenue. She lists the group of women who came together in the late 1870s at the suggestion of Dr. James C. Green to form plans for the care of the sick, particularly young men without anyone to look after them. This group evolved into the Ladies’ Benevolent Society which was incorporated in 1884, and its initial membership is listed. The Society first established a “Home for the Sick” in a house on South Ridge Street rented from Capt. W. T. Clark and furnished with contributions from members of the Society. In 1887 the Danville Female Academy building at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Loyal Street was vacant and the Society was able to acquire it for use as a hospital. Roman Eagle Masonic Lodge participated in funding for the hospital and subscribed $120 a year to it. In the early 1900s $20,000 was raised by subscription and the hospital was enlarged in 1903 and became the Danville General Hospital in 1904. During these early years the Ladies Benevolent Society was active in the management of the hospital which had a number of female superintendents. John Edward Hughes, a bachelor and wealthy tobacconist, who was long a patient at the Danville General Hospital during his decline in health, recognized the need for an improved facility and bequeathed $250,000 for its further development at his death. Since there was little room to expand at the Jefferson Avenue location the hospital was moved to a new building on South Main Street and became the Memorial Hospital as a memorial to Mr. Hughes. With the establishment of the new hospital the Ladies Benevolent Society retired from active management but continued as an Auxiliary to the Hospital.

After the move of the Hospital to South Main Street the 257 Jefferson Street site was sold to an individual owner and was turned into eighteen apartments known as the Fairfax Apartments. Over the years the property gradually deteriorated and a fire in 1996 added to the deterioration causing the City to begin proceedings to have the building demolished. Demolition was delayed for many years by appeals by the owner who wished to rehabilitate the building but was unable to do so. Currently the building has been condemned and is again slated for demolition. The old building will soon be gone but will remain a part of Danville’s history.