• 1835 Franklin Street, Denver, CO 80218
  • 303-837-7111

History of Saint Joseph Hospital

In 1873, while Denver was still struggling to become the territorial capital of Colorado, Mother Xavier Ross of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, sent four Sisters to establish a hospital with only nine dollars and the challenge that the Sisters "look forward for what good there is yet to be."

sjsrbrunrThe Sisters opened their hospital in a cottage at the intersection of 14th Avenue and Arapahoe Street, but soon moved to a brick building at 26th Avenue and Holladay Street (later renamed Market Street). Since this was a short distance from Denver's red light district, many Denver residents mentioned that it was a questionable neighborhood for a hospital. "We'll take the question out of the neighborhood," replied one of the Sisters.

During the early years, the hospital was known as Saint Vincent's. This was changed to Saint Joseph in 1876 when the Sisters began construction at 18th Avenue and Humboldt Street on land donated to them by territorial Governor William Gilpin. This site was directly adjacent to the hospital's present location at 1835 Franklin Street.

Hospital Growth Aided by “The Unsinkable” Molly Brown

sjambulncConstruction of the administration building with its famous twin towers began in 1899. Led by flour baron John K. Mullen, the people of Denver raised $10,000 for this building with a "gigantic city-wide bazaar," and a "monster" euchre (whist) party, planned by none other than Mrs. J. J. "The Unsinkable Molly" Brown.

The March 22, 1899 issue of the Denver Times wrote "The success of the hospital and its rapid growth is due in large measure to the non-sectarian character of the charity, to the high efficiency of the medical staff, and the keen interest which the Sisters take in the work to which they have devoted their lives."

Various types of medical equipment were installed during these early years, including a brass sterilizing machine (reputed to be the first of its size west of the Mississippi) and X-ray equipment (a remarkable accomplishment since the procedure had just been discovered in 1895).

The Makings of a Modern Hospital

In 1961, ground was broken for the hospital's iconic twin towers structure, which served Denver for 50 years.

In 2014, Saint Joseph Hospital completed its new, state-of-the-art facility located at 1375 E. 19th Avenue and Downing Street in Denver. Featuring some of the most advanced treatment technologies, environmentally-friendly design, and person-centered accommodations for patients and visitors, the new Saint Joseph Hospital continues the 140-year tradition of high-quality, affordable healthcare in Denver.

To learn more about the new Saint Joseph Hospital, visit the History in the Making.