Dr. J.J. Sutter standing on the porch of the Bluffton Sanatorium - now the location of the Bluffton Public Library.
Today, we take for granted that Bluffton has a hospital. Not every rural community, however, has one. What is the story behind how the hospital came into existence?
That story follows:
In February 1908 a stock company, incorporated for $20,000, was organized in Bluffton for the purpose of established a local sanitarium.
The home of Dr. J.J. Sutter, remodeled the previous year, was chosen for the sanitarium.
It was located on the northeastern corner of East College Avenue and Main Street, today the site of the Bluffton Public Library.
The facility transferred ownership to a corporation formed by five area churches in 1919 and the name changed to Mennonite Deaconess Home and Hospital.
The sanitarium served Bluffton for 29 years. During the Great Depression years when WPA money was available for public works, Bluffton’s application for a new hospital building was approved.
Estimated at a cost of $92,823, the federal government agreed to apply $74,422 if the village could provide $18,400.
Six thousand dollars was raised in pledges and the remainder provided by the hospital.
On June 9, 1937, the new hospital opened on Garau Street. At that time the hospital was renamed Bluffton Community Hospital. The land for the hospital was purchased for $1,300. Hospital shareholders voted 170-0 to deed the new building site to the village to be eligible for federal aid.
Eight patients were moved from the old building to the new. Surgery was scheduled at 8 a.m. the first day the operating room was opened.
The old building was purchased by Howard Stager and subsequently torn down to make room for a gas station.
Today the origins of our hospital are part of forgotten Bluffton.