1880s Original Children's Hospital BuildingThe future begins with the past, in the form of a young entrepreneur, Kirk LeMoyne. Master LeMoyne, son of local pediatrician Frank LeMoyne, had an idea. He and his friends decided to raise the necessary $3,000 to endow a single cot at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital. The cot would be used exclusively for babies and children. And in 1887 the Cot Club began its fundraising mission.

But once the cot was endowed, several hundred dollars remained. So Dr. LeMoyne advised young Kirk to place the funds in a savings account so that one day the Cot Club could provide an entire hospital dedicated to the well-being of babies and children. Dr. LeMoyne believed that children could be better cared for in a hospital devoted to their care than in the wards of wing of a general hospital. And Kirk agreed.

Word traveled about the Cot Club’s savings plan. And those who could, contributed. Those who couldn’t, admired. And the fund grew.

Then in 1887 Miss Jane Holmes, a local philanthropist and church worker, bequeathed $40,000 for a hospital exclusively for children. There was one stipulation: the hospital must be built within one year.

Although the challenge was nearly impossible, on September 27, 1889, the combined gifts of the Cot Club and Miss Holmes were used to purchase four acres of property. Bounded by Forbes Avenue, McDevitt Place, and Ophelia Street, the site was to be developed for the first home of the Pittsburgh Hospital for Children.

The 15-bed hospital opened its doors on June 5, 1890. Its mission, as set by the board and staff, was “to try and meet the needs of the community in present day pediatrics and prevention.” The diseases of the day — cholera, infantum, constipation, dyspepsia, scrofula, and indigestion. And the hospital’s pledge to the community began with the first patient. “The doors of Children’s Hospital have been opened to all children in need of medical and surgical care regardless of race, creed or the ability of their parents to pay the cost.”

Taken from the Spring 1990 issue of Children's Hospital's COLORS magazine.