Story by Steelworks Center of the West – Dr. Richard Corwin, of whom St. Mary-Corwin Hospital was named after, was one of Pueblo’s most influential men of all time. This story was written about him during the 90th anniversary of his passing:
“Dr. Richard Warren Corwin. We have posted this steel story before, but thought it was appropriate to post it again to many of our new friends who might have missed it the first time.On April 16, 1881, one year after the steel works began production, Dr. Richard W. Corwin assumed his position as Chief Surgeon of the Colorado Coal and Iron Company (precursor to the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company.)Corwin was born on a farm in Binghampton, New York and spent his youth at Narrowsburg, on the Delaware River and in rural Virginia.
The constant stimulation of nature inspired young Corwin to apprentice as a taxidermist at the age of 14 with Dr. John G. Bell, a noted authority on the subject. His hobby was to prove useful in his undergraduate years at Cornell University, where he supported himself as a taxidermist for the school’s museum. Later, the University of Michigan appointed Corwin curator of the school’s museum. While in Ann Arbor, Corwin enrolled in medical courses, graduating in 1878, after which he completed a medical residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago.
Making his way to Pueblo in 1880, he was hired as Chief Surgeon by the Colorado Coal and Iron Company (a precursor company to CF&I) where he immediately put his medical training to work to respond to improve the health and well being of the workforce at the mines and mill.During WWI, he traveled widely to study advanced medical practices and hospital procedures, implementing many of them at Minnequa Hospital, including new treatments for traumatic injuries, and operating room sterilization procedures.
Under the direction of Dr. Corwin, the Medical Department became a leader in the field. The facility expanded to include a nursing school, chemical laboratory, a team of skilled surgeons, physicians, dentists, optometrists, obstetricians, dieticians, neurologists, pathologists and x-ray technicians. Dr. Corwin was also responsible for the creation of the Sociological Department in 1901, which concerned itself with the moral, educational and recreational needs of employees.
During his lifetime, Corwin was recognized as an internationally renowned physician, and received numerous honors from his professional colleagues, including appointments to leading medical societies. Apart from his medical career, Corwin was very active in community affairs, serving on the Pueblo School Board for more than 40 years, Pueblo Municipal Library Board, and the Colorado State Board of Agriculture, as well as many statewide and national medical and civic committees.
When he passed away in 1929, the Pueblo Chieftain eulogized him in these words: “The City mourns the passing of a scholar, a philosopher, a builder, a servant of mercy…he has been summoned to his reward.”
Following his death in June, 1929, CF&I executives renamed CF&I’s hospital from Minnequa Hospital to Corwin Hospital in his honor. In 1949, that hospital merged with the hospital operated by the Sisters of Charity, renaming the hospital once again to St. Mary-Corwin Hospital.
Story and photos courtesy Steelworks Center of the West
1) Dr. Richard Corwin, 1851-1929
2) Casa Vivienda, Dr. Corwin’s home, sat on the grounds of Minnequa Hospital. The home also served as a boarding house for visiting physicians and a site for holding medical related training, meetings and conferences. Today, this site is near the corner of Minnequa and Lake Avenues.
3) Patients recuperating on the front porch of the Minnequa Hospital, 1902. The design and construction of the hospital was one of Corwin’s accomplishments.
4) One of his many of his accomplishments in CF&I’s medical department was the establishment of a traveling nurse program. These women visited CF&I families teaching women about the value of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh air, clean water and exercise. Here, Mary Skifavrs visits a family in 1917.