History

Treasure HouseFor fifty-seven years, Treasure House has played a warm and vital part in the life of Norwalk.  Its Mary Poppins Victorian façade at 5 Isaacs Street has invited generations of men and women to come inside - to browse, to chat, to shop, to relax. Invariably, they have found a genuine welcome from the women inside, because Treasure House was created to be a resource for the whole community.

The roots of Treasure House reach back a century, to the very beginning of the Norwalk Hospital in 1893. When that modest health center opened to serve the medical needs of the city, a Ladies Visiting Board was formed, it's mission was to seek out caring women from the churches, the factories, and the civic-minded families in the area. From the outset these women were determined to focus their energies on the comfort and care of the patients at Norwalk Hospital, and to minister to the needs of the hospital personnel and the student nurses. That commitment has never waivered.

During World War I, the Ladies Visiting Board became the Woman's Board, and its responsibilities were Treasure Housebroadened to include fund raising. In 1961, the idea for a thrift shop was born. Downtown, on Isaacs Street, the lights in the small Victorian house still burn. Staffed by volunteers from the Woman's Board, Treasure House continues to serve the community.

FROM OUR HISTORIAN:
The need for a hospital in Norwalk was recognized as early as 1880.  In that year a group of townspeople met to promote interest in the idea, which continued to grow.  Finally, corporators organized the hospital in November 22, 1892.

With the forming of the Norwalk Hospital Association, twelve women came forward to offer their help.  They represented eleven churches and the Hatter's Union.  Early in 1893 the Ladies Visiting Board was established by the Directors of the Association, and except for a later change in name, it has been in continuous operation ever since.

Duties were defined by the Directors: "The Visitors shall be twelve in number, of whom at least two shall visit the Hospital every month, and as frequently as they may deem proper.  (Records show that, in fact, these visits were more frequent.)  They shall inquire into the economical and moral concerns of the Hospital, and report every two months to the Executive suggesting improvements and designating abuses."

In June, 1893 a building known as the Merritt House, at 24 Leonard Street was rented at $50.00 per annum.  The first Norwalk Hospital consisted of six beds on the second floor.  That building still stands today, and a plaque marks it as the original site of the Norwalk Hospital.

Of interest:  In the first year the Hospital cared for 31 patients at a cost of $6.60 per patient per week.  The cost to the patient was $7.00 per week, which included medications, nursing and washing.

The Ladies Visiting Board devised a system to ascertain, on a regular basis, the Hospital's needs and methods of meeting them.  It seemed natural to accomplish this through the Church Circles and Societies which the members represented.  The ladies were responsible to provide such necessary items as surgeons' aprons, hand towels, draw sheet, abdominal binders, bed pan covers, and on and on.  Members of the Kind Word Circle gave $1.00 to buy toys for the hospitalized children and $4.00 for fruit for the poor patients.  Mrs. Leop Davis asked permission of the Ladies Visiting Board for the King's Daughters Circle of South Norwalk Congregational Church to furnish Christmas decorations for the Hospital.  The request was granted with thanks.  The First Baptist Church sent 15 towels.  12 green shades for the lights, flowers, and $3.00 for the purchase of night shirts.  Donations such as these were ongoing through many years.

In 1899, Mrs. Matthews (of Lockwood Matthews Mansion) wished to give and decorate a Christmas tree at the Hospital.  A special meeting was called.  It was decided to accept with thanks the lady's generous offer.  It was also decided that each member donate 50 cents toward presents to be put under the tree.

The next year, 190, the members voted to give 25 cents toward Christmas presents for the Nurses and Orderlies.  $4.75 was collected, enough to give handkerchiefs and note paper to the Nurses and mufflers to the Orderlies.

Also, in an era of home sewing, the Church Societies were able to draw on the talents and experience of their members.  As a result, the Norwalk Hospital Sewing Society was organized in May, 1919.  They were divided into ten groups which met separately.  Included were members of the South Norwalk Baptist Church, Jewish Junior Council, King's Daughters, Grace Church, Trinity Church, Rowayton Group, Monday Group, St. Joseph's Church, Norwalk Council of Catholic Women, and the Norwalk Methodist Church.  The Ladies Board sponsored the new organization and loaned it $300 to start up.  The Sewing Ladies were well organized, with elected officers, regular meetings, minutes, and regular schedules to meet and sew.  And sew they did: after only a month of organizing the Ladies happily reported having made 1,308 articles!!  The Ladies continued sewing and sewing and sewing until disbanded in 2001.

In order to augment meals cooked in the Hospital the LVB brought a variety of foods prepared in their homes.  Broths and jellies were carried to the Hospital and menus included all kinds of seasonal garden harvests.  There were even such unusual summer treats as ice cream.

Occasionally there was a change in members or an alternate was needed.  To take care of this, a nme was submitted by a group of the members, to be accepted by the Board, and presented to the Hospital Board of Directors for their approval.

From practically its beginning the Board saw the need to reach beyond its first recourse - which was themselves.  Therefore, in the Fall of 1987, a Fair was held in the Lockwood Hall on two evenings at which the Twin City Mandolin Club provided the music.  The financial report was pleasing: total amount received (at 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children) was $603.05.  Expenses were Hall - $24, Advertising - $17.80, Janitor - $2.00, music - $9.00, making the total of $52.80.  The balance of $550.25 was a very grand total indeed.

The following year the Ladies' Visiting Board was encouraged to try another fund raiser.  They sponsored an Operetta "Cayenne, or the Laundry Bell" which raised $262.35.  In the Fiscal Year November 1897 through October 1898, the Hospital Building Fund was given $815.00 in cash!

With the new Hosp0ital under construction, the Visiting Board notified the Hospital Association of its wish to furnish the Reception Room.  The Members agreed to contribute toward the purchase of furniture, and their donations amounted to $82.

In August, 1899, the long awaited new building on the Old Boston Post Road on Armory Hill was opened. There were 226 beds.  The new facility was equipped with an Operating Room with a private bed, and an etherizing room.  Special note was made when the patients were children.  A certain "Little Fred" received particular attention.  A month after moving to the new building, the staff was caring for 10 patients.  By the end of the year there were 123 patients.

That very summer the Board met in the Hospital to decide on bedding and other needs, among wich was the new kitchen.  The kitchen was entirely equipped, including a new gas range costing $29.00 installed.

At the formal opening the Ladies helped make the event a success by providing refreshments, and that is how the first large hospitality responsibility originated. The Board suggested that the doors be thrown open for public inspection, free of charge, and they would furnish cake, if the gentlemen would furnish the ice cream.  The guests expressed the unanimous opinion that the Norwalks possessed a hospital of which they might well be proud.

 

When Honey Hill Care Center was in the planning stages, the Woman's Board pledged $1 Million to its Building Fund. Through the efforts of our many volunteers this pledge was paid in 7 - 7 1/2 years.

In recognition of the Woman's Board's $1 Million pledge, a permanent plaque was placed in the Honey Hill Care Center lobby.

NORWALK HOSPITAL RECOGNIZES WITH GRATITUDE
THE DEDICATION AND SUPPORT OF
THE WOMAN'S BOARD OF NORWALK HOSPITAL
WHOSE MEMBERS HAVE GENEROUSLY CONTRIBUTED
THE FIRST FLOOR OF THIS FACILITY
COMMENORATING 100 YEARS OF SERVICE 1893 - 1993

 

Honey Hill Care CenterHoney Hill Care Center was dedicated on June 2, 1993.  The Woman's Board also donated $25,000 for the creation of the Strolling Gardens at Honey Hill.   It was a beautiful garden with paths and walkways filled with flowers, chairs and tables.  It was a place for the residents to spend a relaxed time with family and friends or just a place for them to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air and warm sunshine.  On September 26, 2002 the dedication of the Strolling Garden took place.
 Little Chapel
In May 1956, the First Chapel in the Norwalk Hospital was finished and dedicated. In 2007, The Woman's Board donated $100,000.00 for the renovation and refurbishing of the Little Chapel.