Grace Cottage Hospital opened its doors on August 7, 1949. 830 people attended the Sunday afternoon opening and toured the hospital with nurses Bessie Leonard, Eunice Bills, Valerie Streeter, and Lillian Lyons, while cook Emma Castle showed off the new kitchen. Refreshments were served on the front lawn of the hospital. The first baby was delivered that night at 1:08 a.m. on August 8, 1949.
Within a year, Hattie Stratton’s house next door was added as specified in her will, and in 1978, Ruth Heins donated her house next door to the growing hospital campus.
Dr. Otis served as hospital administrator until 1990, and as chairman of the board until he died in 1994.
1950 – Grace Cottage Auxiliary inaugurates the annual Fair Day fundraiser.
1950 – Mrs. Hattie Stratton designates that her home, adjacent to Grace Cottage, be given to the hospital upon her death.
1953 – Grace Cottage opens Stratton Nursing Home, a nursing home attached to the hospital.
1978 – Mrs. Ruth Heins, who lived next door to Grace Cottage, wills her house to the Hospital.
1980 – Grace Cottage opens Heins Home as a licensed, residential care home.
1984 – Dr. Carlos Otis is named Vermont Physician of the Year.
1990 – The community responds to the “To Be Or Not To Be” campaign; $1,000,000 is raised to keep the hospital going.
1992 – Grace Cottage opens the Wolff Outpatient building to provide space for Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapy as well as a variety of specialists who travel from elsewhere to see patients one day a week. This building later houses the entire expanding Outpatient Rehabilitation Department.
1994 – Grace Cottage Foundation was created to raise funds for the facility.
1995 – Grace Cottage Family Health receives federal certification as a Rural Health Clinic.
1996 – Grace Cottage opens Messenger Valley Pharmacy.1998 – The 19-bed Grace Cottage Hospital moves up the hillside into a brand new, 18,750 sq.-ft. building behind the original Fletcher house, and Grace Cottage Family Health expands to use all the space in the Fletcher house.
1999 – Mollie Beattie Woodland Garden dedicated.
2000 – Grace Cottage applies for and is designated as the first Critical Access Hospital in the State of Vermont.
2002 – The 18-bed Stratton Nursing Home closes. A team spearheaded by Grace Cottage forms a project development committee for senior housing in Townshend, which gives birth to Valley Cares (West River Valley Assisted Living).
2002 – Grace Cottage delivers its last baby and discontinues obstetrics practice. Between 1949 and 2002, approximately 2,500 babies were born at Grace Cottage.
2006 – New kitchen is completed for Grace Cottage Hospital and a new 57-space parking lot is completed.
2007 – Heins Home Residential Care closes and residents move up the street to Valley Cares (West River Valley Assisted Living). Valley Cares is a separate organization, not affiliated with Grace Cottage.
2009 – Community Wellness Room is added to the Heins Building. Thirty ServCorps volunteers from Hartford, CT, came to Townshend for two weeks in September to build the 1,000 square foot addition.
2011 – Diagnostic Imaging Suite is added to the hospital as well as a 40-slice CT scanner.
2012 – Messenger Valley Pharmacy is expanded and renovated, tripling the size of the original space. ServCorps volunteers from Hartford, CT, return to help build the new addition for the pharmacy.
2013 – Grace Cottage accepts the gift of the Dennison House, located next to Messenger Valley Pharmacy, from Dr. Carlos and Ruth Otis’s daughters.
2013 – Grace Cottage joins Vermont Blueprint for Health, and starts Community Health Team.
2014 – Grace Cottage begins hospitalist program.
2016 – A ‘Safe Room’ is added to the Emergency Department to better serve patients with mental health issues.