Cooley Dickinson Honors History, Looks to Future at Time Capsule Event

NORTHAMPTON — It was a birthday party, campaign celebration, and time capsule ceremony rolled into one event.

More than 100 attendees to a recent event recognized significant moments in the history of Cooley Dickinson Hospital at the site of its new patient building and Kittredge Surgery Center.

Caleb Cooley Dickinson, a former Hatfield farmer and a distant relative of poet Emily Dickinson, died in 1882, leaving a bequest of $100,000. According to Craig Melin, the hospital’s CEO, “Caleb Cooley Dickinson’s original mission was to establish a hospital where the sick would be tenderly and kindly provided for with care and special treatment.”

When the hospital opened its doors on Jan. 1, 1886, it accommodated 12 patients and boasted an operating room, a wash room, a doctor’s room, a dining room, a parlor, and a matron’s room. The two-and-one-half-story structure was heated with steam, had drop gas lights, and boasted hot and cold running water.

“Today, our vision is similar to that of our founders,” Melin said. “We are committed to delivering care to the sick, providing tender care and special treatment to those to whom we are privileged to serve.

“There have been drastic changes and tremendous improvements in the past 120 years,” he continued. “Today, we are a 125-bed hospital with five operating rooms. More than 300 physicians, 400 nurses, and hundreds of other care providers take care of our patients.”

When the new building opens in April 2007, the hospital’s technology and services will improve even more, Melin said. “We will continue to have the ability to stay in step with up-to-date technology that allows us to deliver quality care to our patients, along with our terrific staff who provide that care.”

William Stapleton and David Scott, co-chairs of the Caring for the Future fundraising campaign, announced that $7,424,066 has been raised for the capital project, toward a total goal of $10.8 million.

To mark the hospital’s anniversary, items from employees, physicians, and community members were collected to add to a time capsule. Among those placing items into the time capsule were Amherst Town Manager Larry Shaffer, Easthampton Mayor Michael Tautznik, and Northampton Mayor Clare Higgins.

Hardigg Industries, based in South Deerfield, donated a durable plastic container, measuring 17“ x 30” x 14”, that will house all of the contents. Once all the items are secured inside, the company will seal the container, and the time capsule will be buried at the main entrance to the new building, marked by a granite stone.

Items donated to the time capsule include:

  • A photo of Caleb Cooley Dickinson, hospital founder and benefactor;
  • A stethoscope;
  • A prosthetic knee;
  • An unopened letter from Melin, to be read by Craig’s successor;
  • A tie donated by Melin;
  • Laparoscopic surgical equipment;
  • A piece of tile (circa 1960s) from a current operating room;
  • Photographs of current hospital departments;
  • Newsletters spanning the past 120 years;
  • Artwork donated by children who attend Jackson Street School;
  • A memory stick, a computer archiving device;
  • A town report from the Town of Plainfield;
  • Way Cooley Coffee;
  • A pink jacket worn by a current hospital volunteer;
  • A letter from Melin; and
  • DVDs of Amherst town history.

Comments are closed.