A Hospital in a Factory


“In fact, the hospital bears the earmarks of a permanent institution and to all appearances might been established and equipped after a carefully prearranged plan rather than hastily put together for a sudden emergency.” The Saginaw Courier, November 22, 1918

One of three Red Cross hospitals, operated by the Saginaw Red Cross during the 1918-19 Influenza epidemic, was located in a North Michigan Avenue building originally constructed for the Saginaw Silk Garment Company. The caption on the postcard states "The Daylight Factory." In 1918, fresh air and natural light were considered imperative for maintaining good health and recovering from illness.


The phrase "daylight factory" denotes a particular type of reinforced concrete construction that allowed factories to have open work floors and great expanses of windows. (Actually, most daylight factories had a higher window to wall ratio than the Saginaw Silk Garment Company Factory.) The vast expanses of windows created well-lighted work spaces and pleasanter working conditions. They seem to respond to the goals of the National Consumers League, an early organization promoting good working conditions and wages. However, daylight factories were not simply constructed for worker safety and comfort, they also provided efficient floor plans increasing productivity.


Images of the Saginaw Red Cross Hospital that was located in the Saginaw Silk Garment Company factory are preserved in the Local History and Genealogy at Hoyt Library. These photographs were also featured in the 2018 Castle Museum of Saginaw County History exhibit, On the Home Front.


Images of this exhibit that include the interior of this hospital may be found at 

https://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/2018/10/saginaw_countys_world_war_i_co.html

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The Castle Museum and History on the Move are supported in part by awards from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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