THE NURSES’ HOME
At the opening of the hospital in 1894, the nurses of the Royal Victoria were housed in quarters on the fourth floor of the Administration Building. However, with the rapidly expanding nature of the hospital, naturally followed by an increase in the number of attending nurses, and like many other aspects of the Royal Victoria, this expansion required an almost continual improvement in terms of built form. Numerous modifications were made which saw groups of nurses housed in attics and parts of the public wards, as well as houses purchased for this purpose on Peel Street. Following the turn of the twentieth century, investigations were made into the possibility of housing the nurses in their own separate building. The decision to site this new structure to the west and slightly above the original buildings resulted in a dramatic addition to the Royal Victoria’s principal Pine Avenue facade.
The Nurses’ Home, now called the Hersey Pavilion, is of particular interest in that its design was accomplished in three stages by three of Montreal’s most prestigious architectural firms: Edward and William Maxwell, Hutchison & Wood, and Lawson & Little. The original portion of the Nurses’ Home was completed in 1907, with major additions by the above architects in 1917 and 1932 respectively.
Respecting Saxon Snell’s original aesthetic intentions, the Nurses’ Home was executed in the Scottish Baronial style closely following the lines and proportions of the original buildings. At its construction in 1907, the new structure featured a simple rectangular plan and gable roof. The broad side of the building ran parallel to the Surgical Wing. The 1917 modifications added a new wing featuring 40 bedrooms and a larger kitchen area, and changed the form of the building to a T shape. These additions were made as a response to the increased number of nurses working at the hospital following the opening of the Ross Pavilion. Lawson & Little’s renovations of 1932 drastically increased the accommodations again by 72 single and 30 double rooms, a library, a classroom, and a dietetic laboratory. This new wing was joined to the Nurses’ Home on its west facade, and diverged at an angle towards Pine Avenue resembling the disposition of the Ross Pavilion. The resulting picturesque view of the home with the Ross Pavilion in the background can still be appreciated today.