German Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles

Germans Launched Fairview Hospital in 1889

"100 Years of Nationalities in Cleveland"
Seventeenth of a Series
By Theodore Andrica
Cleveland Press, date unknown

German organizational, religious and cultural life in Cleveland reached its peak during the 40 years that followed the Civil War, ending in the 1910's.

The achievements of Cleveland Germans during this era include the establishment of 24 Protestant and five Catholics churches; the founding of Fairview, Lutheran, St. Alexis' and St. John's hospitals and of the Altenhelm, German old folks' home, 7719 Detroit Ave.

The beginnings of Fairview Hospital lie in the story woven around a small Swiss boy from Bucyrus, O., who fell from a tree and broke his arm in two places.

The arm was not properly set and the boy was sent to a Cleveland hospital for treatment. Friends wrote to Dr. J. H. Stepler: a German reformed minister, asking him to visit the boy.

See Need for Group

Out of this visit developed the idea that Cleveland should have a place where sick and needy Germans and others could be taken care of in a kindly, sympathetic manner.

Dr. Stepler brought the idea to the attention of the German Reformed Church at a meeting in the Second Reformed Church on July 3, 1892. A committee, consisting of Dr. Stepler, Dr. J. H. C. Roentgen and Mrs. A. Young was appointed.

On July 31, 1892, the Society for the Christian Aid to the Sick and Needy was formally organized with 65 members. The management was entrusted to a board consisting of four ministers, four laymen, and four women, all members of the Reformed Church.

The first officers were the Reverends Stepler, Roentgen, F. G. Forwick, E. A. Fuenfstueck; W. Richter, W. Becker, A. Kirchofer, S. Jung and Mesdames A. Jung, F. Forwick, S. Stepler and Miss S. Loewe. Dr. Stepler was elected president and Dr. Rogenten, financial secretary.

Lack of nurses prevented the group from any active hospital work for an entire year. Attending the meeting of the society in July, 1983, was a visitor from Zurich, Switzerland, a Reformed deacon, "Schwester" Katherine Broeckel.

After a visit to her Zurich home, Sister Broeckel returned to Cleveland and on Nov. 15, 1983, she began her active work. At the beginning Sister Broeckel, who lived in the Oltmann home, was visiting the sick in their homes. Her first patient was a Mrs. A. Trautmann.

Eventually Sister Broeckel found a house at 1212 Scranton Rd., three rooms and a kitchen, which she arranged for hospital purposes and opened on Mar. 1, 1894.

On Apr. 15, 1894, a second "Schwester," Miss Anna Hofer, came here from Toledo. As the old Scranton Rd. house proved to be too small, a larger place was rented on Franklin Circle. This, too, proved inadequate and a property was bought on the lot where the present Fairview Hospital is located. Some $16,000 were spent to open this new "German Hospital" on Sept. 8, 1896.

Nurse Resigns

View of Fairview Hospital
German Hospital, as Fairview Hospital was called until 1917, was built in 1896 on the present site, 3303 Franklin Blvd.

In February, 1897, Sister Broeckel resigned and Sister Anna Hofer succeeded her. In May, 1901, Dr. Roentgen, whose name was conspicuous in the work of the first 10 years of the hospital, was appointed as the first superintendent. He served in this capacity until 1903.

Dr. J. H. Ruetenik and the Rev. Henry Schmidt followed and then the Rev. J. V. Kosower took up the work as full-time superintendent on Jan. 1, 1908.

At the same time that the Rev. Kosower came to the hospital, ground was broken in August, 1907 for a new fireproof hospital building and this was dedicated in May, 1908. During the first World War, the name of "German Hospital" was changed into Fairview Hospital. Superintendents who followed the Rev. F. W. Leich, the Rev. F. H. Diehm. In 1923 the Rev. Philip Vollmer Jr. was named superintendent and he still is serving Fairview Hospital in that capacity.