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The History of HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital

Celebrating 140 years banner
The year 2017 marks the 140th anniversary of the opening of the actual hospital in Effingham after the Sisters arrived in 1875. We are taking this year to celebrate our commitment to Effingham and the surrounding communities.

Colleagues recently shared stories about their history with St. Anthony's. Read More.

St. Anthony’s is proud of its rich history of serving the health care needs of the Effingham community and surrounding areas since 1875.

We celebrate this history through the pictorial display featured down our hallways and dedicate these images of our past to the many who have served within our walls throughout the years.

Our pictorial history display begins in our arched hallway adjacent to our Chapel.

Our History Brochure

A Brief History

St. Anthony’s proud history began in November 1875 when three Hospital Sisters of St. Francis arrived in Effingham to care for the poor and sick.
Original hospital circa 1910s
The Sisters had not been in the area long, when people began asking them to build a hospital. Support quickly followed, and the cornerstone was laid.  St. Anthony’s Hospital was opened on September 15, 1877. The two-story hospital was 46 by 47 feet and provided for 18 patients.

By 1891, the first addition was completed.  The hospital provided private rooms and wards for patients as well as living quarters for the Sisters.  Many additions followed in 1917 and 1924.

On April 4, 1949, a hospital fire tragically took 77 lives and claimed victims from everywhere – patients, newborn children, nurses, Sisters, a Priest, employees.  Many people, with no thought of themselves, gave their lives helping others.  On April 5, help came from everywhere.  Doctors, police, and staff from area hospitals and many from the Sisters’ hospitals in Springfield and Decatur arrived to offer their assistance.

Hospital Fire April 4, 1949

On August 15, 1951, ground was broken for a new hospital.  The hospital was made possible through the financial assistance from area citizens, federal and state funds, Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, and donations from 48 states and four foreign countries.

On September 15, 1952, the cornerstone was laid. Steadily over the next three years, the new hospital rose up to a total of six floors and two floors of equipment penthouse.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, construction never stopped on the new hospital from 1952 to 1954.

Opening Dedication Ceremony 1954May 16, 1954 marked the dedication of St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, named “Memorial” in honor of those who had died in the fire five years earlier.  Hundreds of area residents attended the dedication ceremony.

There have been many advancements and progress at St. Anthony’s in the years that have passed since the first three Hospital Sisters arrived in Effingham.  St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital remains true to the tradition of caring entrusted to us by the first Hospital Sisters.  From such humble beginnings, St. Anthony’s has grown to become a state-of-the-art regional medical center, providing advanced health care with a compassionate touch.