Trinity Hospital

Trinity Hospital was an institution that came and went before our time, and it took a lot of research to piece together both the physical history of the building as well as the institution itself. A thanks to Neil Sullivan who also jumped aboard this investigation, and the page is our combined efforts to unravel its history and fate.

Dr. Campbell's Hospital
Dated:Unk Maker:Commercial Post Card Co. Status: Need
It started with this undated postcard. Jack Termine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center solved this one for us. William Francis Campbell (1865-1926) was surgeon-in-chief, and is influential in the creation of the hospital in memory of his mother. It opened in 1910.
Trinity Hospital
Maker: P. Miller Dated: 1915 Status: Own(BG)

This P. Miller card from 1915 then identified the structure as Trinity Hospital, which gave us something to work with. Neat tidbit- the sign in front reads "Hospital Street- Walk Your Horse".
Trinity Hospital
This image was taken from "Good Old East New York" and identified the building as the James Williams residence, located at the intersection of Williams, Fulton and East New York Avenue. Neil did some digging and came up with an address of 1835 East New York Ave.
Trinity Hospital, 1923
This 1923 image is nothing special but it comes with important details; "This house, dating from 1843, has also been known as the Tubbs Hotel. It originally faced the intersection of the Brooklyn and Jamaica Plank Road (Fulton St. ) and Flatbush Road (East New York Ave.). Now (1922) the house faces East New York Ave., having been turned and moved 100 feet westward. On the King's County map of 1873 the Williams estate owned lots 21 to 50 in the area. The Trinity Hospital owns most of this property, and occupies this house (in 1937)."
Map of location,1873, 1893
These Plat maps line up with the description above. In 1873 the structure sits near the corner and by 1893 has been turned and is sitting on lots 27 and 28.
This 1941 view faces the triangle tip of the property, the original entrance to the Williams estate. After the hospital was moved, the land where the house stood was dedicated as a small park in 1914. I suspect the pillars in this photo may date to the original Williams estate but it could also have been made for the park.
Dr. Campbell, pictured on the left, passes away in September 1926. In this era doctors often owned private hospitals, and some reports indicated he left the hospital to fellow surgeons. However, in 1927 the facility is sold to another group by his widow. It reopens in 1928.
Trinity Hospital, looking north up (Williams), 1929
Along comes this shot which really adds to the confusion. The hospital looks significantly different. Neil tracked down mention that the building was stuccoed and enlarged in 1924, which appears to be confirmed by the issuance of a CO in December 1924. By this time, Trinity had grown from a local hospital to a cancer research facility.
The March 5, 1931 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported plans for a $500,000 annex to the hospital. This was a separate building facing Fulton Street.
Murder, Inc.
Now for the colorful sub-history of Trinity Hospital. The institution's location made it the choice du jour of wounded gangsters during the era of Murder, Inc. Abe Reles, its leader, spent time there after one hit attempt. But mobster Tony Mogno's story was even better. Tony was gunned down on Williams and Livonia Avenues in 1931, but survived. In a scene straight from The Godfather, the rival gang came to the hospital to finish the job, only to be thwarted by Mogno's henchmen. Tony was whisked away to another facility. He could not escape his fate, however; in 1933 he was gunned down in the back of his 'cordial shop' on Jamaica Avenue and 146th Street.
Operating room, March 8, 1936
This picture was captured in the operating room after a car crashed on the Interboro Parkway, killing 5. The lone survivor is in surgery. The surgeon is identified as Dr. Smith.
1831 East New York Ave, 1940
Neil tried to track down the tax photo for the hospital but alas it does not appear to exist. The house on the left in those early postcards was still there as seen in this tax photo. I believe the structure you can partially see on the right is the renovated hospital. The 2006 photo on the right is not the same house but one two doors down to the left; most of that corner has long been demolished. The 1938 article we found in the Record indicates demolishing the building was a foregone conclusion.
Aerial photographs provide the clearest view of Trinity's fate. Herkimer Street was extended and cut through to East New York Avenue (where it turns into Williams Street.) That route went right through the hospital and the annex, seen in the 1932 aerial. The 1954 aerial shows the completed version. Presumably this was done to improve access to the Interboro Parkway.
View along East New York Avenue, 1923, 1942
These images document the change taking place. The LIRR and the ENY station are being placed underground so all this work changes the logistics of this location. In the 1923 image we can see the turret of Trinity Hospital on the left. In the 1942 image on the right, the building is gone.
Trinity Hospital Site, 2006
I found an article in the New York Times from November 1939 where a special commission studying New York's Hospitals recommends Trinity be closed. I have not pinpointed the closing date yet, the last mention is in 1940. Neil supplies a shot of the area from the opposite direction. On the right is a CO from 1954 for a gas station at this address. Thanks to Neil Sullivan for his contributions to this investigation.