What To Do With The Neponsit Nursing Home?
In the May 21 edition of The Wave, in the Beachcomber, there was a section about what to do with the old Neponset Nursing Home. A couple of years ago at a meeting Kevin Boyle, I believe, came up with the best idea for this historic complex.
It should be given to the Defense Department to be used as a rehabilitation center for our Wounded Warriors coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. What a great setting on the ocean for these heroes to convalesce. There also could be accommodations
Letters for wives and children, or parents to be able to stay with them for visits. During the summer, these Wounded Warriors would have use of the beach to help with their recovery.
This historic complex was originally a hospital. Its history goes back to the late 19th century. Jacob Riis, America’s first photojournalist and a reformer, photographed and documented the horrific conditions that immigrants lived with in the lower part of Manhattan. Disease was a major problem for the tenement dwellers in the 19th Century – diphtheria, influenza, typhoid, pneumonia and worst of all was the white plague – tuberculosis. Every year twenty thousand cases were reported, every year eight thousand people died of the disease.
In 1904 at the urging of Jacob Riis and his group, The New York Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor, the City started to look into the purchasing of land on the west end of the Rockaway peninsula for a children’s tubercular hospital and a park. Like the mountains, the fresh sea air offered therapeutic and rehabilitating treatment for children suffering from bone and glandular tuberculosis. The Rockaway climate was perfect for this. The hospital was completed in 1917. It had 120 beds and large open air balconies. It was called the Neponsit Beach Hospital for Children.
This building still stands and can be seen today. What a perfect place and setting for our Wounded Warriors to recuperate. It would also fulfill the requirement of the original deed that the land could only be used as a hospital or park.