Solandt Memorial Hospital Board President Kathy Hockin stands under elm trees surrounding the historic Hayden building, which is slated for a $700,000 improvement project.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Solandt Memorial Hospital Board President Kathy Hockin stands under elm trees surrounding the historic Hayden building, which is slated for a $700,000 improvement project.

Solandt hospital board to raise funds for improvements

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Nancy Montieth, a medical assistant with Yampa Valley Medical Associates, gets ready to head home after a day of work Wednesday in the historic Solandt Memorial Hospital building.

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The hospital's board members hope to make repairs to the elevator to make the building handicap accessible.

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A plaque located on what now is the main entrance to the building displays the hospital's designation on the Routt County Register of Historic Places.

— Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version. The Babson-Carpenter Foundation has pledged $40,000 toward improvements to Solandt Memorial Hospital.

Honey-colored autumn sunshine slipped over the windowsill in Solandt Memorial Hospital's sunroom Wednesday, spreading across the space where tuberculosis patients once convalesced.

Vestiges of Solandt's past are visible decades after the building ended its tour of duty as a hospital. The Hayden building opened in 1923 and ceased operation as a hospital in the late 1960s, though it has housed medical services since.

Now, the hospital board is working to raise thousands of dollars for structural and cosmetic improvements. The State Historical Fund probably will provide much of the nearly $700,000 needed, board President Kathy Hockin said. But the group must round up thousands of dollars in matching grants.

About $80,000 has been pledged to the building, which is on the Routt County Register of Historic Places.

Hockin speaks of Solandt as if it's an old friend - a friend with health problems.

"It's still sound, but we're starting to see signs and symptoms that say, 'I need help,'" she said.

If something isn't done, the building could be lost, Hockin said.

Community effort

Jan Leslie at the Hayden Heritage Center has compiled a massive binder of information about Solandt Memorial Hospital, telling the story of what once was the only hospital in Northwest Colorado.

The building is named after Dr. John V. Solandt, a Canadian doctor who moved to Hayden in about 1897. Solandt served the community for 19 years, according to a profile that was published several decades ago in the Hayden Valley Press. He died in 1916 from injuries he sustained in a car wreck.

In the museum's files, a piece by Roy Hofstetter details what happened next. A group of residents met Aug. 23, 1919, to discuss how to honor Solandt's memory. The residents, led by Robert Norvell, agreed that a hospital was the best way.

"The Doctor had spoken several times of the need of a building of this kind," the work states. "His many friends thought that nothing more suitable could be done to comply with the Doctor's wishes than to put up a building of this kind, which will always remind us of the heroic deeds performed by him."

The residents pledged $8,000 to the hospital that night. Hofstetter became secretary and treasurer of the Solandt Memorial Hospital, and construction began Oct. 15, 1919.

The entire town was invested in the hospital, Hockin said. Women made quilts for the rooms. Farmers removed boards from their barns to use as molds for the concrete. Once the substance dried, they took the boards back out and replaced them on the barns. Marks from those boards still are visible under the stairs in the hospital's basement.

It was completed in 1923.

"It is just a grand old building," Hockin said.

The town raised money to sustain the hospital with social events, Hockin said. The annual fundraising ball was quite the party, said Leslie, who has lived in Hayden since 1943. People would come from across Routt County and Wyoming to dance to the band.

"I remember baby-sitting so people could go to the hospital ball," she said.

85 years later

The tan brick hospital isn't crumbling to the ground far from it. Solandt houses Hockin's Family Fitness Center, a dentist office, a medical clinic and other services.

Nathan and Diana Haerr run the dental office on the top floor.

"We love the old architecture and the spaciousness and the location overlooking town," Nathan Haerr said.

But Solandt has needs. The major and most expensive issue is drainage. Poor drainage is putting stress on the building, which is perched atop a hill on the eastern side of town. Water pools in the parking lot, creating a hazard, Hockin said. The repairs will require the removal of 18 to 24 inches of concrete and parking lot renovations, she said.

That's the priority.

The other parts of the three-phase project will include interior work. The elevator must be fixed to comply with regulations, and the hospital board wants to restore the walls and ceilings to their original style.

The town of Hayden has agreed to give money, and the Babson-Carpenter Foundation has pledged $40,000, Hockin said. The hospital board plans to ask the Routt County Board of Commissioners for funding. The hospital gets some money from a taxing district, but it's only about $17,000 a year, she said. All donations are welcome.

Anyone interested in helping may call Hockin at 276-3610 or contact Judy Green, John Shaw, Bob Robinson or Sam Haslem.

The hospital board members plan to work until they raise every cent, Hockin said. The community that built the hospital deserves that, she said. The residents use the services, and many folks were born there.

"We're going to keep working till we get it," Hockin said. "We're determined. We just think it's really important."

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