Act 5 of 1856 established the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital.
The Government gave the Municipality land on the Eastern side of Richmond Hill to raise funds for the construction of the building. A suitable spot was finally selected, bordered by Lansdowne Place and Wills Streets, (what is now known as Richmond Hill, Lutman Street and Dagbreek Single) on what became known as Hospital Hill.
Robert Archibald, the Town Engineer, drew the plans and building began in February 1857. In October 1859, during an out- break of small pox, the hospital was first taken into use. Over the years extensions were built and other buildings added in the grounds. The nurse’s home was located on spot where the remnants of the tennis courts are.
The hospital was in use until the present Provincial Hospital was opened on 4 June 1915. The much larger hospital was long awaited, and the old hospital was disinfected and then taken over by the School Board.
A Hebrew School was opened in part of the old hospital premises in 1918. This was later moved to the Old Foresters’ Hall on the western corner of Edward and Campbell Streets.
In 1926 The Port Elizabeth Secondary School opened in the old hospital buildings, with L.V. Deary as Principal, and going up to standard 8. It was the first school here to offer Afrikaans on the higher grade, thus catering for children from the Afrikaans-medium primary schools as well as for those from English-medium, schools.
The section for infectious diseases (Isolation Ward) of the old hospital can still be seen to the west of the new buildings on the property.
View of the hospital from photo taken circa 1905 with Richmond Hill (street) in front, Dagbreek Single further up and Lutman Street to the left
The original main entrance of the hospital, opened in 1859.
Collage to show recognisable features on the hospital site:
The existing building next to Landsdown Place (later Isolation Ward) can be seen to the extreme left in this 1905 photo.
The pine-species tree almost at the entrance of the hospital is still at the back of the current school building that replaced the hospital many years later.