As foreigners created a living space in Shanghai from the 19th century, they introduced various services to support life in the new city. I mentioned schools with the College Municipal Francais and postal services in previous posts, hospital was another of the public services that were created.
The first foreign hospital in Shanghai was the Shanghai General hospital first opened in 1864 on Rue Colbert near French Bund. The hospital was staffed with nurses from the Les filles de la Charite de Saint Vincent de Paul, a French Catholics order. After much debate, this hospital was relocated in 1875 to a “very far area”, the newly developed North side of the Suzhou Creek in the International Settlement. The hospital needed a large area for a reasonable price and ground price in central Shanghai was already very high. . Like for the General Post Office the choice was difficult and it took a long time to decide as the move would add 10 to 20 minutes of transportation in case of emergency. It is very amusing to notice that the same area is now considered very central and desirable.
The hospital building was of Colonial British Style, that as now mostly disappeared in Shanghai. As the city developed more capacity and space was needed and more buildings were added on the same plot, a red brick building on the right and a neoclassical building on the left. The later is probably from the 1910’s as it looks similar to other buildings of this style built then on the back side of the Bund. Picture left shows that the garden on the Suzhou creek side was already well maintained, long before the recent recreation of the Suzhou Creek promenade.
The Shanghai General Hospital was one of the main hospital in the International Settlement, along with “Hopital Sainte Marie” (today’s Ruijin Hospital), the German hospital (today’s HuaShan hospital) and Shanghai Country hospital (today Huadong hospital). In the 1930’s the nurses were replaces by another Catholics order, the “Institut des soeurs Franciscaines”. The picture right shows an operation theater staffed with nurses from this order.
As for many buildings in Shanghai there was little maintenance over time. As seen on modern days picture left, the middle building was replaced by a concrete cube probably in the early 1980’s. Both side buildings got added floors and transformation to gain space. The left building suffered the most, but the right building was still pretty much in the same shape until destruction in April 2010, just before the Shanghai Expo opening. I am sure this fantastic piece of real estate will be developed in some more luxury apartments in this area. Too bad that at least the buildings in good shape were not preserved.
August 2010: The building will become a luxury residential compound. The walls surrounding the compound were barely set up that posters displaying the grandeur of the new development (and its fantastic location) were already hanging… no mention about the Shanghai General Hospital though.