|City/Town: • Salina|
|Location Class: • Hospital|
|Built: • 1913 | Abandoned: • 2010|
|Historic Designation: • Kansas Register of Historic Places|
|Status: • For Sale • Abandoned • Private Property|
|Photojournalist: • Rhett Corbett Bobbi Crafts|
The idea for the St. Johns Salina Hospital was pitched by Rev. Father Maher of the Sisters of St. Joseph who then brought the idea to other non-Catholic citizens of Salina who agreed there was a need and banded together. Because of the strong belief in the cause donations came pouring in including $1000 The Salina Deanery, $1,500 James Mason, $1,000 Hugh Carlin, $1000 D.D. McCauliff, $1000 Ed and T.W. Carlin, $1,000 J.J. Geiss, $1,000 Ed Kaffer, $1,000 C.L. Schwartz, $1,000 Jas E. Skelley, $1,000 Julia Martin, $1,000 F.K. Baier. Work was set to begin in early spring 1913 with architect C.A. Smith. It was noted that the handsome hospital would become the first $100,000 of Salina. The total cost of construction was over $130,000 after all was said and done with the costs of the following contracts: Nelson Contracting Company $84,843, Plumbing Heating Wiring $16,000, Elevator $4,600, Screens $1,000, Hardware $1,400 as well as all the furnishings. The hospital comfortably fit ninety people but if needed in an emergency situation could accommodate 125. The Sisters of St. Joseph whose headquarters were in Concordia were in charge of the new hospital.
The formal dedication of the St. John’s Hospital of Salina was on June 28, 1914. The beautiful dark red brick, four-story building was under the protection of dark green tile shingles. The construction included five open-air balconies allowing patients and nurses a place to relax and get some fresh air. The fourth floor was the surgery floor where major and minor operations would happen, sterilizing rooms, restrooms, locker quarters, pharmaceutical, anesthetic, and recovery rooms. The third floor was where the Chapel was with a capacity for a hundred and fifty people. There were two sacristies or rooms where the priest would prepare the service as well as a stairway leading to the Chaplains suite located on the floor below. Ten intricate stained glass windows line the walls of the floor donated by the Salina Deanery. Also on the third floor are private rooms for patients.
The second floor of the hospital was also the main floor that the front doors lead into. On this floor were reception rooms, the main office, a large banquet hall, suites for the priests and a private vault room where the records were kept. The first floor was where most of the cafeteria operations took place with a dining hall.
Many decades of births, surgeries, and life-changing events took place within the walls of the St. Johns Hospital and eventually the name evolved into St. Johns Regional Health Center. In 1995 a decision for what was thought to be the greater good was made with a merger. St. Johns and Asbury-Salina hospitals merged to form a new Salina Regional Health Center. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end for the Penn campus property. After the merger, the Salina Regional Health Center began to phase out the use of the Penn campus when they built their new hospital at 400 S Santa Fe Ave. Most operations were moved to the new building in 2004 with John’s campus becoming more and more vacant. By 2010-11 the campus was entirely empty and abandoned. From 2002 until 2015 Salina Regional had made several failed attempts to find a potential developer for the property.
One of those attempts was with Comprise Community Development Company who signed a contract with the Salina Regional Health Center under a contingency that the building would undergo due diligence inspections. Comprise had plans to convert the former hospital building into affordable senior housing including 104 one and two-bedroom units. Having full intentions of keeping all historic portions and anticipating construction would begin in fall of 2014. The plans and contract with Comprise Community Development Company fell through and once again hope seemed glim for the hospital. Because of the numerous attempts to find a buyer with no success the Salina Reginal Health Center received approval from the Salina Heritage Commission for an application to demolish the former St. John’s Hospital campus on December 4, 2013.
Jim Ravenkamp thought all avenues to save the structures had not been explored and officially filed a protest against the decision. Jack Hinnenkamp, of Salina Regional Health Center, said it would cost between $1 million and $2 million to demolish the seven-building campus. He said redeveloping the buildings would cost more but didn’t provide any numbers. As a result, the decision was reversed and the Salina City Commission denied the demolition permit in November 2014. This lead Salina Regional Health Center to sue the City of Salina the following month. The lawsuit was filed on the grounds that Salina City Commission violated its property rights by refusing to allow it to demolish the campus. While the hospital was not listed on the state or National Register of Historic Places it was designated as a Heritage Conservation District in 1997 because of its cultural and historical significance to the community. The lawsuit asks the Saline County Court to reverse the commission’s decision and disregard the Heritage Conservation Ordinance.
Just a few months later, the former Salina Regional Health Center was sold to the Sunflower Development Group based out of Kansas City in March 2015. Sunflower Development had very similar plans for the hospital as Comprise Community Development did but with only 42 units instead of 104. With plans to redevelop the property into affordable senior housing using historic tax credits. In order to do this unoriginal portions of the building would have to be removed and the building added to a historic register on the state or federal level. First came the demolition of the unoriginal portion, an application for a certificate of appropriateness, was sought after in 2016 to partially demolish the entrance lobby added to the front of the building at in 1958, a covered drop-off area and adjacent one-story wing both added in 1988.
Demolition of the newer additions happened the first week of January 2018. The next steps were to work on getting the hospital on the National Register of Historic Places and the Register of Kansas Register of Historic Places. The efforts were successful in getting the St. John’s Hospital on the KRHP but the building was not accepted to the NRHP for unknown reasons. Unfortunately, Sunflower Development Group plans also fell through, after years of trying to figure out a way to move forward with the redevelopment a decision was made. In December of 2021, the hospital property was listed for sale in auction for $70,000 to try and find a new owner.
This is private property patrolled by Salina Police and 24/7 camera surveillance. Do not enter without permission or you will be prosecuted.
Gallery Below of St. Johns Salina Hospital
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