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House of Mercy Hospital
The history of what would become Berkshire Medical Center begins with the House of Mercy. In the 1860's, Dr. Henry H. Childs witnessed poverty and suffering in his clinics and saw the need for a hospital in Pittsfield. The Reverend John Todd, pastor of the First Congregational Church, called for a refuge for sick and poor, or a "House of Mercy." In September of 1874 $5,874.22 was raised at a community bazaar. The eight bed House of Mercy was located at 214 Francis Avenue and opened January 1, 1875, becoming the first house-based hospital in the United States. In its first year the House of Mercy treated over 20 patients. Two years later, when it had outgrown its initial building and moved to a new larger structure at First, North and Tyler Streets, 34 patients were cared for in its thirteen beds.
The House of Mercy took pride in keeping up with new inventions of the day. The first telephone was installed in 1879, a horse drawn ambulance was donated in 1891, and in 1906 an x-ray apparatus was installed. In 1889, the Henry W. Bishop III Memorial building was built across the street from the hospital, doubling its capacity and providing a home for the Bishop Memorial School of Nursing. The House of Mercy was expanded again in 1932 when the Edward A. Jones Memorial wing was dedicated and opened to the public.
In 1949 the House of Mercy was renamed Pittsfield General Hospital. A new seven-level, 245-bed hospital was opened in 1962.