New Meader Collection in Digital Repository

Dr. Charles Meader was the seventh Dean of the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine.  He served as Dean from 1916 to 1925.  Perhaps one of the most important acts of Dr. Meader’s tenure as Dean was to move all the operations of the schools of medicine and nursing to a central location in Denver. He wrote the bills that paved the way for the construction of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Campus at 9th and Colorado.

The Strauss Health Sciences Library received a donation of documents and artifacts from the Dean’s Office of the School of Medicine in 2016.   Included in the donation were the original documents that Dean Meader prepared for the acts that created the 9th Avenue Campus.  The collection contains several drafts of the bills that established the original University Hospital and the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital. Two versions of the bills are handwritten by Dr. Meader with several notes and have many more sections that appear in the finalized bills.  There are also several studies and reports from other states, which Dean Meader may have used to shape the language of the bills. In one of the early drafts of the bill, he wrote ‘Section 11. Incorporate Section 10 of Minnesota Act, altering phraseology to conform to Colorado conditions.’ Section 10 deals with fess involved in transporting patients.

The documents have been scanned are available for viewing at the Mountain Scholar: Digital Collections of Colorado and Wyoming.

Dr. Charles Meader began the work to build the University of Colorado Health Sciences Campus at 9th and Colorado after the University had gone through a long history of moving back and forth from Boulder to Denver. In 1879, the Regents of the University of Colorado issued an announcement saying ‘The object of the establishment of this Department [of Medicine] is to secure a good medical education for those who may in the future be entrusted with the lives and with the health of our citizens. The Regents believe that the lives and health of the people of Colorado are not second in importance to another interest that can be subserved by the State University. The Medical Department of the University, like the other Departments of this institution, assumes no unjustifiable superiority over colleges. It aims to emulate the best school, but chooses to establish its own standard. The State of Colorado, through the Medical Department of its State University, offers no facile inducements to graduation, but proposes to serve the best interest of the citizens of the State.’  This began the University of Colorado Department Of Medicine. When it was instituted in 1883, it was originally housed in two rooms of CU’s Old Main, and a 30 bed teaching hospital in Boulder. Budget problems, the small size of the hospital, and pressure to compete with other medical schools in Denver, such as the Denver and Gross College of Medicine, prompted the medical school to move, in part, to Denver.  All the clinical work the students did was moved to Arapahoe County Hospital (later Denver General) in 1893.  However, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that all students of the University of Colorado had to be taught in Boulder, so the clinical side of the school was moved back in 1897.  In 1910, the rules were changed, and the clinical curriculum was able to legally move back to Denver.  The school was housed at the James B. Archer Mansion at 1301 Welton St. from 1911 to 1924. Dean Meader began working on the acts to incorporate the teaching and clinical work of the health sciences programs as soon as he became Dean, in 1916. 

The two bills Dr. Meader wrote were to build, fund, and maintain the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital, and the University Hospital. The Act to authorize the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital was sent to the Colorado General Assembly in 1919 and passed. The appropriations bill, House Bill 140, which authorized a mill levy to help pay for the Psychopathic Hospital did not pass until 1923. House Bill 232, which authorized the University Hospital went before the Colorado Assembly in 1923. The Roll Call for the Assembly vote to authorize the University Hospital are part of the Dr Meader documents.  It shows that it passed 48 to 10, with five members not casting votes.

The documents we received include three handwritten drafts of the bills, and several typed versions with notes and revisions.  Much of the final versions of the bills lay out who the hospitals are for, and the price structures for care, staff, and facilities.  The Act to establish the Psychopathic Hospital says that the hospital will be supervised and governed by the Regents of the University of Colorado. Section 3 through 7 explains the power the Regents of the University of Colorado have in administering the new hospital.  It empowers the Regents to acquire land, build the hospital, and to use temporary buildings until a permanent hospital is built.  It also charges them with hiring a superintendent, and explains the qualifications needed. Section 6 reads ‘The Board of Regents shall appoint a superintendent, who shall hold office during their pleasure, and who shall be a physician and graduate of an incorporated medical college who shall have had at least ten years’ experience in the actual practice of his profession, and who shall have had at least five years actual experience as a neuro-pathologist. The superintendent shall reside at the hospital, and give his entire time and attention to the discharge of his official duties and shall receive such compensation as shall be fixed by the Board of Regents.’ An assistant supervisor can also be appointed.  

The main function of the Psychopathic Hospital was to care for patients that are placed in the hospital by the courts.  Additional room can be offered to volunteer patients, if there is space. The bill lays out how those patient will be charged for the hospitals services.  A volunteer patent was to pay for a full month of care when they were admitted, and then pay for a full month for any additional time they believed they needed treatment.  When the patient was discharged, they were refunded any money still on account.

The Bill to authorize the University General Hospital went before the Assembly in 1923.  Part of the bill, similar to the Psychopathic Hospital bill, is to authorize the Regents to build and maintain the physical hospital, hire staff, and set fees.  It set out very clearly that the hospital is intended for the treatment of citizens of Colorado who may not be able to afford treatment. Section 3 reads ‘Said University Hospital shall be primarily and principally designed for the care of legal residents of Colorado who are afflicted with a malady, deformity or ailment of a nature that can probably be remedied or improved by hospital care and treatment, and who are unable financially, to secure such care…’  

The Bill to authorize the University General Hospital went before the Assembly in 1923.  Part of the bill, similar to the Psychopathic Hospital bill, is to authorize the Regents to build and maintain the physical hospital, hire staff, and set fees.  It set out very clearly that the hospital is intended for the treatment of citizens of Colorado who may not be able to afford treatment. Section 3 reads ‘Said University Hospital shall be primarily and principally designed for the care of legal residents of Colorado who are afflicted with a malady, deformity or ailment of a nature that can probably be remedied or improved by hospital care and treatment, and who are unable financially, to secure such care…’  

Many of the following sections explains the procedure to apply for treatment at the hospital, and the fees the County the patient is a resident of will need to pay.  An interesting part of the bill provides for someone to be paid $3 a day, plus expenses, to transport the patient to and from the hospital if they are unable to afford to make the trip on their own.  

To further emphasize the mission of the hospital, patients that can pay for care, cannot be admitted unless there is space available, and their fees will be used to run the hospital.  Section 6 says ‘Students of the university and such other patients as the Board of Regents, to an extent that will not interfere with the primary purpose of said hospital as set forth in Sec­tion 3 may direct, may be received in said University Hospital whenever there is room, and all fees received from such patients shall be used for the purposes of said hospital.’

Once the bills were passed, the Regents started the process to find a location for the campus and raise the funds to build it.  Frederick G. Bonfils, the owner and publisher of the Denver Post, offered 21 acres of land between 8th and 11th Avenues at Colorado Blvd, to the Regents in 1922.  Previous to the donation being made, the Regents were negotiating for a plot of land at 26th Ave, just North of City Park.  Once the Bonfils donation was accepted, the plan for that location was abandoned. Along with a $750,000 donation from the Rockefeller Foundation, and a $600,000 state tax levy, construction of the 9th Ave Campus began in 1923.  The Hospital was designed by Maurice Briscoe, a Denver native.  The design incorporated space for patient care, clinical and research work, and classrooms. Besides the Psychopathic Hospital and University Hospital, a nurses residence, and a power plant were also built. The University of Colorado Health Sciences Campus was dedicated on January 23rd, 1925. Dean Meader resigned as Dean in 1925, satisfied that his duty to the University of Colorado had been fulfilled.  He died at the age of 80 in 1965.

 At the time the original campus was begun, much of the area around the original buildings was vacant, and it was thought that the campus would never outgrow the land.  That was not the case, and when the Fitzsimmons Army Hospital Base became available in 1996, the University of Colorado Health Sciences Campus began to move on what become the Anschutz Medical Campus.  Most of the buildings of the original 9th Ave Campus have been demolished for redevelopment, except the nurse’s residence, one of the original building on the campus. 

Explore the history of the original University of Colorado Health Sciences Campus at Mountain Scholar: Digital Collections of Colorado and Wyoming.  In addition to the Dr. Charles Meader Collection, the digital repository also includes photographs of the 9th Ave campus, the Dr. Robert Shikes Collection, and many other historical items from the University’s long past. 

This was written by Paul, you can contact AskUs with questions.