A Trip Down Memory Lane: 1915-1923

MCH Anniversary Series 1923-1949

A time of development for the hospital’s history and the Peterborough area.

The history of Monadnock Community Hospital goes all the way back to 1917 when community members asked Robert Parmelee to donate his unoccupied summer home to the town of Peterborough to become a community hospital.

In 1873 the first American hospital survey located only 178 hospitals in the country. People who were ill were treated at home or went to the poorhouse/almshouse. Household medicine was nearly identical to hospital treatment.

In the early 20th century major scientific advances were made in germ theory, antiseptic surgery, clinical pathology, x-ray, and more. Acute care was centered in hospitals, such as the ones closest to Peterborough in Keene, Nashua, and Fitchburg, MA. There was little chance for a rapid medical response or immediate physician contact in our small rural community.

In 1915 Robert M Parmelee and his wife Alice Elizabeth Parker Parmelee began to build Evergreen, their summer home in Peterborough. It was situated on 70 acres with a beautiful view of Monadnock. Site work was a labor-intensive operation in the early 1900s. Horse power went hand in hand with manual labor.

In 1917 the home’s value was assessed at $35,776 ($353,718.08 adjusted*):

“It can be established that it will be supported by the people of Peterborough and the adjacent country, if they can be made to feel that it is theirs and so conducted that they (the residents) will be proud of it.” – Robert Parmelee

World War I slowed progress on the fundraising and conversion of the home to a hospital. In December 1918, 185 generous community members pledged $10,330.40 ($200,215.35 adjusted*) for each year over a period of five years.

In March 1919 Mrs. Benjamin P. Cheney and Mrs. Elizabeth C. Kauffman underwrote the entire $200,000 ($3,876,236.20 adjusted*) needed to renovate the Parmelee house and equip it as a hospital. Robert Parmelee wrote, “I am so glad to have my friends and neighbors share with me in this, which will make us all, I trust, better neighbors, better friends.”

On March 28, 1919 the first meeting of the Peterborough Hospital Corporation was held. After many contributions from the war-burdened community and the efforts of many committee members and skilled craftsmen, the Peterborough Hospital opened its doors to begin caring for the community on June 21, 1923. There were few rural communities the size of the Monadnock region that could boast having its own modern hospital.

Room rates 1923:
Room with three beds (ward): $2.50 ($42.79 adjusted*) Private room: $3.50-5.00 ($59.90-$85.57 adjusted*) Private room with bath: $7.00/day ($119.80 adjusted*)

The capacity was twelve beds. Most rooms were furnished as wards with three beds. Room rates were $2.50 per room with three beds ($42.79 adjusted*), $3.50-5.00 private rooms ($59.90-$85.57 adjusted*), one private room with bath was $7.00/day ($119.80 adjusted*). There were four permanent doctors, 12 associate physicians, 47 medical consultants from as far as Boston. There were six bassinettes in the maternity ward.

4 permanent doctors 12 associate physicians 47 medical consultants

29 members medical team


108 active doctors


41 associate doctors

Physicians from 1923Monadnock Community Hospital is a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital offering Primary Care, Medical and Surgical Care, Obstetrics, Pediatrics, and Behavioral Health services. In addition, a wide variety of outpatient services are available, including an extensive Primary Care Network, Orthopaedics, Cardiology, Cardiac and Physical Rehabilitation Services, 24-hour Emergency Care, Oncology, Occupational Health, a fully equipped laboratory and an extensive Radiology department. MCH is very fortunate to have strong leadership and a dedicated medical community that allows us to meet the ever-changing requirements of today’s healthcare environment. As that environment changes, MCH is also committed to changing and providing the communities we serve with appropriate and innovative programs.

*adjusted for 2022 dollars

History – Monadnock Community Hospital