Discovering Chestnut Hill: Nurses Week

by Alex Bartlett, Archivist, Chestnut Hill Conservancy
Posted 5/6/21

Did you know that May 6 is both National Nurses Day and the first day of National Nurses Week? This “Week” ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

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Discovering Chestnut Hill: Nurses Week

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Did you know that May 6 is both National Nurses Day and the first day of National Nurses Week? This “Week” ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who is often considered to be the founder of modern nursing.

The field of nursing has a rich history in Chestnut Hill, with nurses helping to make patient stays at local hospitals and sanitariums more pleasant and healthful for generations. But as we all do, our local nurses needed time off from their hard work, to be able to rest and relax, and enjoy the same kinds of pleasures the rest of us do!

The nurses at Chestnut Hill Hospital had plenty of opportunities for recreation. In 1941, one of the houses across Germantown Avenue from the Hospital, at 8836 Germantown Ave., became a nurses’ dormitory and was affectionately known as “The Annex.” While not working, the nurses living at The Annex could enjoy many activities including but not limited to tennis, dancing, a trip to the Wissahickon, picnics, barbecues, basketball and bowling.

The nearby lines of the Reading and Pennsylvania railroads (now SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill East and West lines, respectively), provided easy access to Philadelphia and beyond, for longer outings. If one wanted to just relax at the dormitory, there was also plenty of room to lounge and read a book‑ a perfect activity for a rainy day. The Annex remained a dormitory into the 1960s. It then entered a prolonged period of vacancy before the Hospital sold it, in 1982. It has since remained a private residence.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Archives and Library of the Chestnut Hill Conservancy are closed. However, if you would like to donate any items documenting the history of Chestnut Hill, please let us know about them! Please get in touch with Conservancy Archivist Alex Bartlett to let him know about anything you might like to donate to our collections BEFORE sending it along or dropping it off, by emailing him at Alex@chconservancy.org. He will get back to you as soon as he can. Direct all other inquiries to info@chconservancy.org.

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