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Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital
88 Clifton Place at Fairmount Avenue

State Register of Historic Places

Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital
Architectural rendering circa 1930's
Courtesy, C. Harris

Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital circa 1940
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital
Photo: A. Selvaggio, 2002

The Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital is one of the most revered landmarks in Jersey City, having more that 350,000 babies of record born there from 1931 to 1979. The official opening was on October 12, 1931. Two claims for the "first" baby born at the hospital appear in the press. One for Carmen J. Rullo of Bayonne on October 9, 1931, and the other for Hugh James Nevin of Jersey City, born on October 15, 1931. The maternity hospital was ultimately responsible for the birth of more than 350,000 babies, including the former Gov. James McGreevey, Martha Stewart and two of Frank Sinatra's children.

Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital staff members in front of the building
Courtesy, Jersey City Free Public Library

Designed by architect Christian H. Ziegler, the ten-story Art Deco building was the first new building of the Medical Center Complex and had been proposed by Mayor Frank Hague in 1921. He recruited the assistance of the members of the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders, especially Mary T. Norton, later a US Congresswoman from Jersey City, for his project. With Hague's support, Norton successfully lobbied the freeholders for the funding for a maternity hospital. Norton's own goal was to address the high infant mortality in Hudson County that peaked in 1923 at 212 per 1,000 births (Vernon 71). Hague then set out to establish the best maternity hospital of its time and to have it named for his mother who died in 1921. Built between 1928 and 1931, it took a $1,600,000 bond issue to fund the construction. The hospital later included an Eleanor Roosevelt Nursery. Mrs. Roosevelt visited the nursery and was greeted by New Jersey Governor A. Harry Moore from Jersey City, Mayor Hague, and Congresswoman Norton.

The Maternity Hospital had accommodations for four hundred mothers and babies; it offered extended visiting hours for working fathers and day care for children of mothers in the hospital. The building featured a stainless steel chandelier in the delivery room, brass handles, and terrazzo floor. The public rooms on the first floor were done in aluminum and bronze. The interior furnishings were from a local furniture store, Gray's of 173 Newark Avenue. The building also had several penthouses and a movie theater on the top floor. For a number of years, the hospital was noted for its low maternal death rate.

Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital
Photo: P. Shalhoub, 2001

The Maternity Hospital closed in 1979, and the City of Jersey City leased it for office space until 1995. A maternity facility at the Margaret Hague Pavilion of the main Jersey City Medical Center temporarily took over the hospital's services until 2003. A stained glass window of the Madonna and Child, once in the lobby of the Maternity Hospital, was placed in the Pavilion.

As part of the Jersey City Medical Center Complex at Montgomery and Baldwin Avenues, the Maternity Hospital will undergo renovation. Rather than demolishing these locally significant and historic structures, the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency named Metrovest Equities of Manhattan to rehabilitate the buildings. The complex will be called The Beacon and redesigned for rental and condominium apartments as well as commercial space and cultural venues. The renovation project is to be completed by 2010 for a projected cost of $350 million.

References:

Martin, Antoinette. "A New Lease on Life for Jersey City Complex." New York Times 27 February 2005.
Vernon, Leonard F. Jersey City Medical Center. Portsmouth, NH: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

 

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub