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A 148-year-old Landmark Building Is Demolished In Wyoming County

March 16, 2019 GMT

MESHOPPEN — A 148-year-old landmark that was the first Tyler Memorial Hospital now is a pile of rubble.

Crews leveled the building, built in 1871 and known for a decade as the Sterling House, to likely make way for a truck and car wash.

“I’m very sad about it,” Carol Gregory, the first baby born there, on Jan. 2, 1948, said from her home less than a half-mile from the building. “I knew it wasn’t in very good shape, but I wish they had kept the repairs up over the years.”

The town’s leading merchant, Daniel T. Sterling, and his brother-in-law, Otis Loomis, built the building for $20,000. In 1883, George Kennard, who served a term as Wyoming County sheriff, bought the building from Sterling’s heirs and ran it as Kennard’s Hotel until his death in 1904.

A number of successors tried to keep it going as a hotel, including James and Agnes Kelly, D.L. Laverty, Harry Houser, Thomas and Etha Moran, Dawson and Rebecca Howell, Francis and Anna Kester, and Elvira Conrad.

Conrad lost the property in a sheriff’s sale around 1940 to state Sen. Cyrus B. Tyler, who paid $6,000 for it.

Years later, before his death in 1954, Tyler was quoted in the Tunkhannock Republican & New Age asking Dr. Charles H. Kraft, father of current county Commissioner Judy Kraft Mead: “What about turning the hotel into a hospital?”

Then, Tyler said, “I would give the building.”

Ground was broken for an addition on the building to open the hospital in 1946. The first patients were admitted in January 1948, with 20 beds in private and semi-private rooms in the addition and another 20 beds in the hotel portion of the building.

In 1951, nine staff doctors chipped in $12,000 for the installation of an elevator. Rumors of building a newer hospital surfaced in the early 1960s and were accelerated by a behind-the-scenes donation of $100,000 by Procter & Gamble, which had not yet solidified its plans to build a large manufacturing facility across the river from Mehoopany.

The new hospital opened in fall 1965. The following year, a new generation of babies eventually would be touched by P&G’s first production line of disposable diapers, known as Pampers.

The last baby born at the old Tyler Hospital was John Trowbridge, on Oct. 16, 1965. He now lives in Oak Ridge, Missouri. His mother, Florence Trowbridge, 81, of Springville, said she remembered that last day for the old hospital well.

Her physician, Dr. Winfield Gibbs, had just returned from vacation and, after having told him about contractions one evening on the telephone, he advised her to come in the next morning.

“There, to my pleasant surprise, was a welcoming committee, and the delivery went well,” she said.

It was her third baby boy at the old hospital delivered by Gibbs, and she had another one years later at the new Tyler Hospital in Tunkhannock.

The old Tyler Hospital was sold in 1967 to Kenneth and Lilly Price, who operated Ken-Mar Home Furnishings there. It became a furniture warehouse after they moved Ken-Mar to a new building. Last year, the Prices announced they were closing Ken-Mar and sold the building to Bill Ruark under the name of WLR Family Partnership, which plans to open the truck and car wash.

“It’s heartbreaking to know that old building isn’t there anymore,” Trowbridge said.

“When you drove by it,” she said, “it was a quiet reminder of all the good that had been done there. I hope people never forget that.”

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