On a wintry day in 1887, Mrs. Hiram Sibley saw a woman fall on the icy sidewalk in front of her East Avenue home. She ordered her coachman to take the victim to the nearest hospital. That was the City Hospital known today as Rochester General Hospital on West Main Street, which was across town. It was at this moment that Mrs. Sibley decided to initiate a hospital for the residents on the East Side of town.
On May 25, 1887, a charter was obtained incorporating the Rochester Homeopathic Hospital. It would take almost two years before Silvanus J. Macy, president of the hospital board, was able to lease an old sanitarium building on Monroe Avenue on the site of Monroe Square, the old Sears Roebuck building. Through a generous gift from Don Alonzo Watson, the building was purchased. The hospital was opened September 19, 1889, admitting its first patient, Thomas Peck, a surgical case.
The Rochester Homeopathic Hospital School of Nursing opened December 1, 1889. The first graduating class consisted of three students. Under Miss Ida Jane Anderson '02 became the first Registered Nurse in New York State. The school closed in 1978 after graduating 2,063 Registered Nurses.
The estate of Congressman Freeman Clarke at 224 Alexander Street was purchased on January 2, 1893. This estate consisted of the mansion and eight acres of land. The Watson family donated funds to erect a two-story wing (Pavilion) housing wards for men and women. The Sibley family donated a second pavilion to be used as private rooms for patients. Another gift from the Watson family provided a maternity building (South Wing).
In 1895, Mrs. Ernest Willard gave the first hospital based ambulance in Rochester. Mrs. Willard also donated the first nurses' dormitory in 1898. The Willard Nurses' Home became the Maids' cottage in 1911.
George Eastman was brought up in the Homeopathic tradition of medicine. He sat on the Board of Managers of The Homeopathic (Genesee) Hospital."There is nothing that I am more interested than public health." Eastman would spend the latter portion of his life in establishing free dental clinics, helping Rochester hospitals modernize, and establish a school of medicine at the University of Rochester.
In 1890 George's mother Maria underwent a successful cancer surgery at the Homeopathic Hospital. Out of gratitude to Dr. John M. Lee for his care Eastman donated $600 ($12,000) to the hospital. After Maria's death in 1907 he endowed the Maria Eastman District Nurse. In 1911 The Maria Eastman Hall was built as a residence for nurses in training at the Homeopathic Hospital.
George Eastman donated the building to honor his mother. The three-story residence was used to house student nurses until the nursing school closed in 1978.
In 1926 the North Wing was added. This same year the hospital name was changed to The Genesee Hospital. In 1931, the Hollister Educational building was erected. 1953 saw the start of construction on the Center Wing. In 1959, the East Wing was built.
1972 was a busy year. The Doctors' Office Building at 224 Alexander St. was built as well as a 560-car parking ramp, the Wasyl Pluta Center for Oral Health was completed and the ground breaking for the Carlson Building was held. In 1974, the Wasyl Pluta Radiation Oncology center was dedicated as well as the Hopeman Orthopedic Unit.
In 1975, the Carlson Building was dedicated and the old landmark, the water tower, was razed. In 1982 the Wasyl Pluta Medical Oncology unit was established. In 1971, The Genesee Health Service was created. The Wolk pavilion was opened in 1993.
Due to the changing landscape of the medical industry, many factors contributed to the closing of the Genesee Hospital on May 21st, 2001, the last patient was discharged and the doors closed.