Herman Kiefer Hospital

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Herman Kiefer Hospital
Established 1905
Construction Began 1905
Opened 1911
Current Status Active
Building Style Single Building
Location Detriot, MI
Architecture Style Neo-Romanesque main building, others varying
Peak Patient Population 3,495 in 1918
Alternate Names
  • Herman Kiefer Hospital Historic District
  • Rehabilitation Institute of Metropolitan Detroit
  • Metropolitan Detroit Polio Foundation


The Herman Keifer Hospital was a clinic designed to serve patients with "consumption" in the greater Detroit area. Named for the father of Dr. Guy Lincoln Kiefer, one of the staunchest advocates for increased medical care for people with what would later become known as Polio, Tuberculosis, Typhoid, and other illnesses, the Herman Kiefer Hospital was finally completed in 1911. The Senior Dr Keifer was a member of many medical boards, educational societies, a member of the underground railroad, and instrumental in the education of his son, who would go on to found this hospital in his name. Dr. Guy L. Kiefer began petitioning for the hospital in 1905, with work started, but quickly expanding need and legal objections from the community surrounding the suggested cite lead to the relocation of where the hospital would be created.

In 1908 the first Tuberculosis patient was admitted to the temporary facilities built on the grounds of what would become the hospital. Most of the prior cases seen at the facility were patients with Polio or people suffering from other communicable diseases. The early patients seen were to be held for 2 months to teach them to "prevent rather than cure" the spread of disease in the community.

Due to his efforts attempts were made to name the hospital after Guy Keifer, but he petitioned to have the hospital named after his father and instead received the first degree of "Doctor of Public Health" from the University of Michigan.

Due to burgeoning need expansions were made several times, with the final facilities consisting of approximately 7 pavilion style buildings, a powerhouse, an Administration building and a Main medical building known as the Taylor Avenue Unit.

Architects of the structures are as follows: Pavilions 1 & 2 (the contagious disease hospital; 1909-1911), the Administration building in 1909 (with expansion for power plant in 1918) and Pavilion 4 were designed by architect George Mason. The Power House (1922), and pavilions 6 and 7 (1919) were designed by architect Albert Kahn. The final addition during this period was the Main Taylor Avenue Unit done by Architect Albert Kahn and with the help of the W. E. Wood Contracting Co. contracting for the work. Later additions for this building were done by H. E. Beyster and Associates Architecture Co and O. W. Burke Co. contracting the work in 1953.

Pavilions 3, 4, 5, and the Nurses building were built in 1913, but demolished before the application for a historic site was completed and there was no date of demolition listed. Several other outlying non-permanent buildings were also used at various times for patients with diphtheria, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, and other medical conditions that needed to be separated and quarantined to prevent the spread of their infectious conditions. Polio was also a common infectious disease for which patients were referred to the hospital and Iron Lungs were added to the facility for the treatment of the condition in 1958. Existing facilities for the treatment of smallpox on the grounds of the hospital were also incorporated into the facility.

The site was still partially active and housed the Wayne County Dept. of Health along with some other offices. Throughout the life of the hospital several other organizations and committees used the facility. Most notable were Rehabilitation Institute of Metropolitan Detroit and the Metropolitan Detroit Polio Foundation. These two groups merged in 1953 and moved to a newly built hospital separate from the Herman Kiefer Hospital in 1958.



For more information please see the sites application for historic status here [1], and here [2]