Kelso Sanatorium

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Kelso Sanatorium
Opened 1919
Closed 1998
Current Status Closed
Building Style Single Building
Location Bloomington, IL


Mennonite Hospital, located at Bloomington, IL, came into being through a growing concern on the part of Mennonite leaders in the Central and Evangelical (then Defenseless) Conference churches in Central Illinois, that provision be made by and in behalf of the Church, for the carrying out of Christ's command to "heal the sick." They were encouraged and aided by Bloomington physicians, particularly Dr. E. P. Sloan, nationally known surgeon, who served for many years as chief of the medical staff. The Mennonite Sanitarium Association was organized on 23 January 1919, its membership consisting of delegates from the constituent churches. (The name was subsequently changed to Mennonite Hospital Association. A board of five directors was chosen, consisting of Emanuel Troyer, who served as president until his death in 1942, Benjamin Rupp, John Kinsinger, Allen Miller, and J. H. King. The board was subsequently enlarged to nine members, three being elected each year by the Association at its annual meeting in January. A property was purchased on North Main Street in Bloomington, and the first patients entered on 1 May 1919. While plans were afoot for the construction of a new building, it was learned that the Kelso Sanitarium at 807 North Main Street was available and by action of the Association it was purchased at a cost of $75,000, the purchase being made by five men making themselves personally responsible for the amount, for which fact many of them paid heavily in later years. In 1931-1932 the main building was added to the single fire-proof structure in the Kelso plant. After weathering the depression, the institution grew rapidly in favor and patronage, and the southern east wing of 45 rooms was added in 1941-1942. In 1944-1945 the Troyer Memorial Nurses' Home with a capacity of 80 was built; and in 1956 the northern east wing was completed, giving the hospital a total capacity of 130 beds.

Benjamin Rupp was the first superintendent of the hospital, serving in that capacity until 1927, at which time N. O. Hoover became administrator and held that position for more than 29 years. The 1956 administrator was Theodor F. Kaap, Jr. The hospital also operated the Mennonite Hospital School of Nursing with a usual complement of 65 girls in training.

In 1956 the institution served a total of 7,357 at an operating cost of $719,384.91. Births numbered 901. Total assets of the institution were listed by the auditor as $1,147,261.99, with a net worth of $772,354.19. Not more than 4 per cent of its patients came from its constituent churches. The hospital sought to render a service in behalf of the church and in the spirit of Christ, and the testimony of many who were served by it attested to the fact that it is serving that purpose.

In 1984 the Mennonite Hospital, Eureka Hospital and the Brokaw Hospital merged to form BroMenn Healthcare. The Mennonite Hospital facility became BroMenn Lifecare Center and from 1991-1998 provided services dedicated to enhancing quality of life. The Mennonite Hospital building was then vacated and sold to become the corporate headquarters for the Electrolux Company, manufacturer of vacuum cleaners and other products.[1]