Riverside Hospital served the Toledo area for nearly a century before it became a dark, forsaken husk surrounded by a field of cracked pavement.
In October 1883, the Sisters of Mercy opened The Retreat, A Home for Friendless Girls. The facility housed young women who were unwed and pregnant, which was taboo at the time. The Retreat kept these expecting mothers hidden away from a society that shamed and persecuted them. Children born there were quietly sent to live in orphanages.
The Retreat moved to various sites before settling at its permanent location at 1609 Summit Street in 1890.
It was upgraded in 1920 with the addition of a 75-bed facility. Over the years, other additions were built and the scope of services offered expanded. The hospital admitted its first male patient in 1932.
The name of the institution changed several times until 1945 when it became Riverside Hospital. In 1983, the Sisters of Mercy founded Mercy Health, which managed the hospital from then on. The 271-bed hospital closed in 2002.
Entrances and windows on the ground floor were boarded up. The freeze-thaw cycle of harsh Midwestern winters cut networks of cracks through the expansive parking lots.
Outdoor sitting areas became overgrown with lush ground cover and thick layers of moss blanketed the surfaces of wooden benches and tables.
The Toledo Public School District bought the site in 2004 for $750,000 and renovated one of the structures to house its central administrative offices.
The future of the rest of the building remained uncertain. When scrappers began breaking into and looting the abandoned structure, motion detectors were installed and the local police began closely monitoring the property.
Over a decade after the hospital’s closure, quite a bit of equipment still remained.
Office furniture and files were also left behind.
Scattered artifacts left clues about the employees who once worked at Riverside.
Finally, it was decided that Riverside Hospital would be demolished, with plans to transform the property into a green space.
In June of 2018, a group of former employees gathered to open a time capsule that had been entombed behind a cornerstone in 1972. The capsule contained surgical tools, a stethoscope, a nursing cap, a list of hospital employees, a visitor pamphlet, pens that had been used to sign revenue bonds, and newspapers from 1972.
Demolition of Riverside Hospital began on August 22, 2018 and is expected to take 5 months to complete at a cost of $998,500.
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