When Good Samaritan Hospital turned 75 years old, a bronze statue depicting the parable of the Good Samaritan was commissioned and since then it has stood next to the main entrance of the hospital. And since its opening in 1932, on the surrounding grounds and throughout the halls and offices inside the hospital are countless other sculptures, paintings, and historic works of art - each piece with a story to tell.
Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton has been closed now for more than two months. It's still unclear what will happen to the medical facility that served as a west Dayton cornerstone for more than 80 years, But plans are underway to ind new places to display the art that found its home at Good Sam for all those years.
An educational ministry, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati figure prominently in Good Sam’s history. They operated the facility when in opened and continued to hold leadership positions through the late sixties.
Sister Carol Bauer has extensive knowledge on much of that art at Good Sam - where it came from and where it’s going.
“From the early days,” Bauer says, “it was general practice of the sisters to believe importance of art, everywhere from a local artist’s participating in the development of the chapel to the actual commissioning of pieces at the time of a particular building or expansion of the hospital.”
Bauer was involved in purchasing much of the art at Good Samaritan.
“One of my favorites is it a statue that was commissioned by the sisters who actually were doing ministry in Rome. When Good Sam was building a building that was known as the Madonna Pavilion and they commissioned an artist in Rome to do a marble statue of the Madonna and Child, and it has been part of the heritage of the hospital ever since.”
Bauer says the art that adorned the halls of Good Sam were meant to reflect the hospitals mission to serve.
“The history of good Sam has a very strong realization that healthcare is a holistic element. Yes, there is healing, there’s caring for the bodies, but real healing requires the emotional support and spiritual support for the patient, and art - good art - whether it be scenery or flowers or whatever, really does feed the spirit and the emotions, and so it was simply a part of everything we did whenever a building was built over the 86 years now.”
Bauer has also been tasked with finding new homes for the art pieces at Good Sam. She says some of them will return to the Sisters of Charity mother house.
“There are maybe a half a dozen pieces that were actually commissioned by the sisters of charity in the early decades, probably the first 60 years when it was owned and sponsored by the sisters of charity. Those are being returned and they will be at the mother house in the art collection of sisters and are very proud of their art collection and will easily arrange tours with groups. We can work with anybody looking to research, anybody looking to understand what is underway.”
Bauer says other works of art will be placed at the remaining Premier facilities, and some, she suspects, could eventually be made available to the public.
Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation President and CEO, Jenny Lewis says their board is working hard to keep stay true to the original intentions of donors responsible for some of the art at Good Sam.
“Whether it’s a piece of art, or a plaque or a bench, or a program, you know if it needs to move and to continue we are working with our donors to make sure that we’re doing that. Some of the larger pieces,” she adds, “we’re still figuring out but our donors are definitely involved. People have asked if they could take their plaque with them and we’re working with them on that, but really we want to make sure that we honor that gift and that donor intent.”
Baur and Lewis also say that throughout the process of closing the hospital Premier and the foundation will work to preserve the legacy of Good Samaritan Hospital.
“We are committed to remembering that story and heritage,” says Lewis. “At the North campus, there’s a real strong commitment on their part and effort to take many of the things that will memorialize that history and we’re working on it together. It’s a lengthy process, and it’s a real detailed process too.”
It’s not only the art that will find homes at other Premiere facilities, Lewis says.
“We’re continuing to support our mothers empowered program, it’s really important to us. The Samaritan Homeless Clinic, we’re continuing to support. So, from a board perspective and a donor perspective, we are very committed to our family and working with individuals as well as with everyone.”
While the art at Good Sam is being disseminated, Premier Health is trying to figure out what’s next for the Salem Avenue location. Following Good Sam’s closing, Premier Health, the Columbus-based city planning firm - Planning Next, and CityWide, held three community forums to discuss the future of the West Dayton site.
CityWide said planners would take that input into consideration before unveiling their final Good Sam redevelopment proposal this fall.