Small Town News

Local Government

Shelton's first hospital 'cost $50,000'

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

- Advertisement -

By 1920, the growing town of Shelton was more than ready for its own hospital. It was a long, sometimes fatal trip by boat or horse-drawn wagon to Saint Peters Hospital in Olympia, especially for a critically injured logger.

In April of that year, the Journal announced that Mark E. Reed, president of the Simpson Logging Co., was leading the effort to make the dream a reality. Reed acquired a city block bounded by Third, Fourth, Junction (now Birch), and Laurel streets (paid for by members of the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen), and excavation was underway. Mr. Reed and his wife Irene had taken personal interest in developing the plans, and Simpson Logging Co. was providing much of the funding the cost to build the 42-bed facility was estimated at $50,000. Other contributors included Reed's mother-in-law Mrs. Sol G. Simpson, Mrs. Agnes Anderson, and the Fredson Brothers, Mason County and Phoenix Logging Companies.

In September 1920, the Shelton-Mason County Journal announced that the nearly completed facility represented the last word in a modern hospital. "The rooms are well lighted and cheerful and throughout the building nothing is lacking for sanitation and comfort.... The superintending nurse has been drafted from a big Southern hospital, and the corps of workers in all departments will be as carefully selected. The splendid operating rooms will be fitted with every modern instrument and appliance, and a modern-equipped auto ambulance will be available to reach any part of the county quickly on call, thus ending the torture to the injured of an improvised conveyance."

Also in September, it was decided that the new hospital would be called Shelton General Hospital. Dr. F. M. Gage, who had just returned to Shelton from visiting some of the best hospitals in the eastern United States, announced that Shelton's new hospital could be compared favorably to the best in the land, including Johns Hopkins in Philadelphia and the Mayo Brothers hospitals and clinics in Minnesota.

The hospital had not yet officially opened when the first patient arrived. According to the Oct. 15, 1920 Journal, Mrs. G. A. Peste "had the unwilling honor of being the first patient, recurrence of an old ailment developing a condition that required prompt action. Dr. Redpath of Olympia, and Drs. Beach and Roberts of the home corps, performed the operation, which was entirely successful."

By 1924, a nurses' cottage had been built on the north side of the hospital, and sometime in the 1930s an office was built on the south side for Dr. Boy N. Collier, who had been appointed house surgeon. An expansion to the building was completed in 1936, and a ground floor annex was added in 1941.

Shelton General Hospital served the community well for over 40 years, but in 1963, the state classified the aging facility as "permanently unsuitable." In May 1965, voters overwhelmingly approved a bond issue to build a new hospital, and Mason General Hospital, built on Mountain View, opened in August 1968.

The old hospital building was sold to a development company, and was demolished in 1972 to make way for apartments.

Jan Parker can be reached at

Copyright 2016 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: March 3, 2016

More from Shelton-Mason County Journal