The History of Elliot Hospital
Elliot Hospital’s original eight trustees first met in 1880, embarking that day on a mission to build a health care facility that would change the lives of the residents of Manchester, N.H. Elliot would pave the way for other medical treatment sites designed to serve the public, not just specialized groups, as was common at the time. (One such facility was the Woman’s Aid Home, which provided care to less fortunate “neighbors” and eventually became Pearl Manor at Hillcrest, an assisted living community that was part of the Elliot Health System until 2005.)
With an onslaught of technological innovations, the practice of medicine was changing at the speed of light late in the 19th century. In spite of this, the hospital trustees’ journey toward treating the first patients at Elliot would take 10 years. Dr. John Seaver Elliot, for whom the hospital is named, was born in Chelsea, Vt., in 1802. He received his medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School in 1826 and went on to practice in Strafford, Vt., and Pittsfield, N.H. During a 100th anniversary event for the hospital that was hosted in 1991 by the Newcomen Society, an international organization dedicated to preserving the history of technology, it was said that Dr. Elliot was “considered to be one of the skilled practitioners of his time … [and that he] possessed remarkable business foresight.”
In 1850, after the death of his first wife, Elliot married Mary Elizabeth Harvey. They were together until his death in 1876. In her will, Mary left a portion of the Elliot estate for the establishment of a hospital for the people of Manchester, especially those less fortunate. Mary asked that the city’s mayor serve as one of the trustees, which also included six representatives from Protestant churches in the area. They used the gift from the Elliots in 1886 to purchase an estate, about a mile and a half from city hall. Construction on the hospital was completed in 1889, according to the Newcomen Society’s ’91 presentation. The cost of building was $20,000. The doors finally opened at Elliot in April 1890. The facility could accommodate up to 25 patients, to be treated by the eight-person medical staff.
Elliot Hospital has survived several economic downturns over the years, including a financial decline after the Great Depression, when the city’s mills were closing and the cost of treating patients was greater than the money coming in. But the hospital prevailed by staying current with medical advances, such as radium treatment for cancer patients. Elliot was also gifted with sizable donations from area citizens in an effort to support its progressive mission and growth, and the health and well-being of the community. The people of Manchester still rely on Elliot Hospital, now part of the Elliot Health System.