New York

Binghamton, NY: Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was established in 1925 by four Daughters of Charity in a historic mansion, and expanded in the 1930s.

In 1938, the hospital announced that it would beautify the south part of their grounds along the river with a Lourdes grotto:

Hospital Begins Beautification: Lourdes Sunken Garden and Grotto Planned Beautification of the lower land lying south of Our Lady of Lourdes hospital main buildings in Riverside drive with construction of a sunken garden 90 by 40 feet and a large grotto at the Susquehanna river and patterned after the grotto at Lourdes, France, has been started through cooperation by St. Mary’s Home Boy Scouts and the Hospital Sisters of Charities.

The plans, according to announcement by the Rev. Joseph B. Toomey, local director of Catholic Charities and secretary of the hospital board of trustees, provide for duplicating, on reduced scale, the world famed grotto at Lourdes on the site of which Bernadette, little French peasant girl, is said to have met Our Blessed Virgin which resulted in a world order of charity for the sick and ailing.

Boy Scouts from St. Mary’s Home are clearing the space for garden and grotto, and sodding the terrace leading down into the garden. This offers opportunity for donations of flowers and vegetation later from the charitably-inclined of the Triple Cities district. All such gifts will be appreciated, according to Father Toomey. Landscape artists and are donating their architects services.

The grotto will stand on a plane six or eight feet above the level of the garden. An altar table will be constructed within the grotto, and patients or visitors meeting there in the evening may participate in the Blessed Sacrament. It also will be a comfortable retreat for relatives and friends waiting at the hospital to see patients.

Press-Sun and Bulletin, April 26, 1938
Press-Sun and Bulletin, April 26, 1938 (click to enlarge)

Sadly, the landscape artists and architects donating their services for this beautiful project were not identified.

Here’s a closeup of the inset picture of the grotto:

The Lourdes Hospital grotto was a large, curved wall structure with an altar, surrounded by an unusual rock garden in which rocks were set vertically in the hillside.

Like most medical facilities, Lourdes Hospital has expanded numerous times since before WWI, and the original Lourdes grotto was undoubtedly a victim of one of those expansions. However, the Sisters recognized the grotto’s importance to those enduring the stressful times of using a hospital, and saw to its replacement with a simpler version on the north side of the property, in a hospital photo shown on Google Street:

Are these the original statues from the 1938 grotto in this newer grotto at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton? No matter, the hospital still has a beautiful, peaceful place for those needing the services of a hospital.
And here’s a more recent photo of it from Google Street itself. I think I liked the ivy-covered version better, but it might not have been good for the rocks to allow ivy to grow on it.

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