Remnants of history up for bid Items from old Jersey City Medical Center to be auctioned off

When the former Jersey City Medical Center building on Baldwin and Montgomery avenues closed its doors in 2004, not all the furniture moved to the new Medical Center.

Chairs, desks and other items were stored away in a Linden warehouse for the past three years and are being put on the auction block on May 5, when the new Jersey City Medical Center on Grand Street becomes for one day Jersey City’s version of Christie’s auction house.

The “Great Old Jersey City Medical Center Furniture Auction” is a silent auction that starts at 11 a.m. runs for only an hour. The winning bids will be announced at 12:15 p.m.

Among those who will be putting in a bid is Bill Dauster, spokesperson for LibertyHealth, the parent company operating the new Medical Center.

Dauster, a 16-year Medical Center employee, said last week he is looking forward to bidding on an item that has special meaning for him.

“This is my last week working for the hospital, since I am going to work at a hospital in Westchester County [New York],” Dauster said. “Before I go, I would like to come and bid on a writing desk I sat at all these years.”The function of the auction

Dauster was matter-of-fact about why the auction is taking place.

“[LibertyHealth] wanted to stop paying storage fees,” Dauster said.

Dauster said that he has gotten several calls from former Medical Center employees who he expects to come out for the auction, as well as Jersey City history buffs.

“A lot of people whose lives were touched by the old Medical Center, and people like me who have spent the better part of their lives working there, will be present,” Dauster said.

He hopes a lot of people do show up, since this will be the last time they will see the furniture, which he described as being in “a full range of condition.”

Dauster did say some items from the old Medical Center were donated to the Jersey City Museum.

“The furniture that’s remaining, we will either give them away or throw away,” Dauster said.

Any money that is raised, including the $2 suggested entrance donation, will go to the LibertyHealth Foundation, the non-profit arm of the company. Yours for the bidding

Meanwhile, the old hospital building is being transformed into the Beacon, a 10-building, 1,200-unit project being developed by New York developer George Filopoulos. The 2,000,000 square foot complex is also considered the largest historic restoration in the country, and the largest in the history of New Jersey.

Filopoulos said he didn’t know about the auction until he was contacted by the Jersey City Reporter for comment. He said he will bid on some of the items up for auction.

“I absolutely will bid if there is anything we can use for the historic space we are creating in the Beacon,” Filopoulos said. “There are some seating nooks we will have that would like to occupy.”

Leon Yost, a longtime resident and a photographer who has photographed the old building over the years, was also excited about the auction.

“It sounds like once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Yost said. “Often these things pass by and you don’t even know until after the fact.”

Yost says he will bid on some chairs and other items that he may have come across in his trips there.

“It came out of the aesthetic of the 1920s and 1930s,” Yost said. “Art Deco furniture that was very well-crafted, a lot of it made of hardwood that lasted a long time.”

However, Yost hopes that there is one specific item there.

“My dream is to own a hospital bed,” he said. The auction will take place in the new Medical Center’s Dining Room and Conference Center at 355 Grand St. Those who have the winning bids are expected to take their winnings on the day of auction. Cash and credit cards accepted. Requested is a $2 donation. For more information, call (201) 377-6057. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at SIDEBAR Old Medical Center history

The Jersey City Medical Center on Baldwin and Montgomery avenues closed its doors in 2004 after 70 years of operation. It was once considered one of the largest buildings in the state of New Jersey and a landmark of Art Deco architecture.

It was built between 1928 and 1941 under the direction of legendary Jersey City mayor Frank Hague with funding provided by then U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

Eleven buildings were erected, including the general hospital, Margaret Hague Maternity Center, Pollack Hospital, and Murdoch Hall. It was a fulfillment of Mayor Hague’s vision to provide the best medical care possible to Jersey City residents who could not afford what was thought of at the time as a luxury.

The hospital was a money-losing proposition from its earliest years, costing at least $3 million per year initially and bringing in very little in payments.

In its later years of operation, most of the buildings that comprised the old Medical Center complex were closed, with most medical care taking place in the general hospital. – RK


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