Ivinson Memorial Hospital turns 100 this year, having grown through the past century from a 100- by 30-foot building in what is now the middle of Laramie into the large, multi-faceted campus that now sits on 30th Street.
Just this week, the hospital finished constructing its new Medical Offices at Ivinson Building — which replaced the Internal Mountain Medicine Building and brought most hospital services under one roof.
To celebrate this historic moment in the hospital’s history, IMH is hosting a community cook-off and BBQ, free to the public.
“It’s just going to be a way for us to give back to the community and have everyone celebrate this huge accomplishment with all of us,” said Kendle Dockham, IMH marketing manager.
“The community does so much for us, we want to give back.”
Hot dogs, hamburgers and brats will be served, while attendees can take tours of the new building or contribute to the time capsule that will not be opened for another century. The capsule is meant to show what life was like in 2017 and what people in 2017 think health care will be like in 2117.
“From here on, until probably about October, we’re going to start taking submissions to put into the time capsule,” Dockham said.
Laramie did not always have a reliable hospital, said Kim Viner, an author and historian who has researched and written about the Ivinson family.
The Union Pacific Railroad opened a hospital in 1868, exclusively for its workers, that was taken over by the Sister of Charity — a Catholic order of nuns — who rechristened it St. Joseph’s, then decided to expand it in 1883.
“But they kept having money problems, so this St. Joseph’s Hospital closed in 1895,” Viner said. “And then there were still very few private hospitals, but it wasn’t until the construction of Ivinson Memorial Hospital that we had a fully functioning big hospital with all the modern — for 1917 — all the modern items that a hospital would have.”
Edward and Jane Ivinson came to Laramie in 1868. Edward was a merchant, who got involved in banking and real estate, eventually amassing a respectable fortune.
After more than six decades of marriage, Jane died of cancer in 1915, and that event might have prompted Edward to start donating his money to various places in Laramie.
“Shortly after his wife died of cancer, he announced that he was going to give a gift of approximately $50,000 — and again, this is 1916 — to Albany County, along with four city lots, and pay for the complete construction of our first, real, functional hospital in Albany County,” Viner said.
Though Ivinson paid for the construction, other individuals and group paid for the furnishings and equipment within the hospital.
Located on Ivinson Street between 10th and 11th streets, the three-story building served as Laramie’s hospital until IMH moved into its current location in the 70s.
“And the sale of that property was used to help build the new Ivinson Memorial Hospital, so Ivinson’s original gift contributed even to our new hospital that was built in 1973,” Viner said.
Laramie owes a lot to Edward Ivinson’s generosity, Viner said.
“He really decided to give most of his money away to things in Laramie,” he said. “He really benefitted our community, and the hospital was one of those things he decided to do.”
IMH’s Community Cook-off and BBQ Bash runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday in and around the parking garage of the Medical Offices at Ivinson Building on the IMH campus. The event is free. Call the IMH marketing department at 755-4602 for more information.