Morristown is known for its rich Revolutionary War and Gilded Age History, the first National Historical Park in the state, numerous restaurants and businesses, and nightlife. Yet, its name is perhaps best known for one of its most visited places (for better or worse)—the Morristown Medical Center (Memorial Hospital).
It was not until 1892 that Morristown opened its first hospital. Until then, local doctors had to send their patients to Orange, Newark, or New York City, sometimes resulting in unnecessary deaths from unavailable local urgent medical care. The current Medical Center initially began as two separate hospitals, the smaller All Souls’ Hospital (later called the Community Medical Center) and Morristown Memorial Hospital, with the latter absorbing the former in 1978.
The Memorial Hospital was first housed in an old Johnes homestead built on Morris Street in 1745, and its medical staff consisted of four doctors. While both hospitals expanded, Morristown Memorial quickly took the lead precedence over the smaller All Souls’ Hospital. Its first brick building expansion took place in 1898, and by 1929, the military complex had grown to encompass the entire block on Morris Street.
In 1949, 24 acres of land at 100 Madison Avenue was donated by three leading families in Morristown, the Watts, the Mellons, and the D’Oliers, to construct a new Morristown Memorial Hospital just as it was becoming evident that the area needed a larger facility. The first sixty-three patients to be treated at the current location were moved from 66 Morris Street to 100 Madison Avenue by nineteen ambulances on July 26, 1952. At the time, its 236 beds made it one of the biggest hospitals in the state—today, it has 735, and it still never seems like enough.
Peter Zablocki is a local historian, author, and educator. He can be reached at peterzablocki.com.