On a knoll overlooking Jenkins and the Elkhorn Lake stands a majestic building. It a remarkable with an interesting history. Made with red brick and trimmed with regal white porches. For generations, it has stood as a building of beauty. Many of the residents of Jenkins were born there. While others have diverse memories of their stays in the hospital on the site. Others had loved ones who would spend their last years there as it became a place to retire.
There was a contract between the Nickola Construction Company and Consolidation Coal Company. This contract concerned the building of a total of seven towns in two divisions.
Because the first set up for the town was basic and everyone was living in tents. Safety, Health, and Morale were the three first things on Consol’s construction list. One of the first tents erected at the construction site was an infirmary. The first building was a small temporary hospital complete with two doctors and a nurse. This boosted the morale and safety of the construction workers. This was part of the deal made with Mayo. It opened its services to the local population which boosted public relations.
The hospital would be one of many buildings that would rise from the valley and sides of the mountains. The completion of the construction of the hospital was during 1915. As part of the deal with John C.C. Mayo, residents of Jenkins would enjoy the hospital as well. A citizen of Jenkins or the surrounding area could depend on the hospital to help. It was an open-door policy for all who needed help regardless of if they were families, miners, or locals.
Consolidation Coal Company sold its holdings in Jenkins. Bethlehem Mines Corporation in 1946 bought the area. The hospital was one of the owned property holdings. Bethlehem Mines Corporation sought help in maintaining the hospital. A deal affected the community.
The Jenkins Hospital changed its name and proprietorship of the hospital. Jenkins Hospital became the Sharon Heights Hospital. The Catholic Sisters from the Congregation of Divine Providence would manage the operation. These sisters’ mission was to operate the Sharon Heights Hospital in 1946.
Consolidation Coal Company transferred complete control. The sisters of Divine Providence in 1948 took the hospital.
Sharon Heights began to open its doors to both contract and private patients in April of 1948. By February 1949, the American College of Surgeons accredited the hospital.
The Sharon Heights Hospital of Jenkins became fully accredited. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals accepted them.
Closing the Door
There came a time when the hospital would close, and a new chapter would begin for the building. The Sisters operated the hospital until late 1962 and the hospital closed its doors on March 7, 1963. Jenkins Hospital was the oldest working hospital in Eastern Kentucky. The property was still owned by the sisters of Divine Providence.
A New Purpose
The Mayking Community Action Council founded the Golden Years Rest Home in 1969. Federal and state grants helped to raise funds. Sisters of Divine Providence leased out the land for a new nursing home. The scheduled opening would be for the summer of 1971.
The new Golden Years Rest Home would have a 50-bed capacity. It would also house the elderly from the age of sixty-two and older. Letcher County Golden Years Rest Home was successful in obtaining a charter. They would be a non-profit corporation. With the purpose of securing the property. Remodeling said property. And have the operation of the property with the express purpose as a home for the aged in the area.
Grants and Proposals
In August of 1969, there was a request for $116,000 from the Kentucky River Development District Board. This money would fund the remodel of the hospital for use as a rest home.
In September 1969, the KRADD approved a $75,000 grant. Then they approved another $52,193 for improvements and renovations. KRADD stands for the Kentucky River Area Development District.
By July of 1970, there was a Special Impact funding totaling $127,193. Then they approved $52,193 for improvements and renovations.
The total of the grants given to the renovations amounted to $370,386.00.
The Farmer’s Home Administration administered other loans and grants. . Donations came from the Mayking Community and other residents. Donations came from the Leslie, Knott, Letcher, and Perry Community Action Council (LKLP).
Contracts Are Signed
On February 3, 1971, was the date of the contract signing and keys handed over. The terms of the $142,700 contract after two years of effort were being signed. Bill Craft and the Letcher County Community Action Council achieved this goal.
The Golden Years Rest Home was set up as a personal care facility.
The level of care was lower than that of other nursing homes. This was due to the residents were not in need of 24-hour care. They were free to leave and conduct daily activities not escorted.
January 2007, Larry Bruce Huff walked away from the home. He was later found frozen to death when he strayed too far from the home in freezing weather.
This sparked the Letcher County Sheriff’s Department to act. A new program called “Project Lifesaver” began. Each resident had to wear an identification bracelet. This permitted the tracing of their locations.
Doors Close for the Last Time
The doors once again closed on the building in October of 2011. Not up to code, the building needed over $850,000 in renovations to continue working as a home for the elderly. After a long time through the court system, the property was finally sold as a private house in 2014. We wish the new owners well.
A Special Thank You
We would like to thank one of the current owners of the building and property. Jennifer McLemore has been extremely helpful to us in obtaining the dates of this incredibly special building. We deeply appreciate your help, thank you.
The Video for the History of Jenkins, Kentucky Sharon Heights Hospital
The Slideshow of the Sharon Heights Hospital 1940 Report
In 1940, Jenkins Hospital sent an annual report of its staff and assets. This is a slideshow showing the pictures that were included in the annual report. From the Consolidation Coal Company collection, National Museum of American History. Credit: unknown (Smithsonian Institution).
For more information on the history of the Jenkins Hospital
Mountain Eagle “The Way We Were” Articles by Date
April 29, 1948
February 3, 1949
October 3, 1957
February 28, 1963
June 26, 1969
September 4, 1969
August 28, 1969
July 30, 1970
December 17, 1970
February 4, 1971
Jenkins Hospital, 1940 Annual Report, interior view
From the Consolidation Coal Company collection, National Museum of American History.
Copyright and Other Information
All photos are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. This includes photos dated before 1923. All other photos are used with permission or under the education fair use statute of the US copyright law.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivatives 4.0 International License.
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When we forget our past and who we are as a people, then we become who “they” say we are. ~~ David Sergent
I have attended the University of Kentucky. I have an Associates Degree from Hazard Community College and Technical School. I have also attended the University of Pikeville. I have taken several classes in Journalism as well as in the Appalachian History, Literature, and Sociology during my time at those schools.
I was born in Florida and grew up in Burdine, Kentucky. I have been married to David W. Sergent since May 4, 2013. I have two children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage. I currently live in Tennessee but my hope is to one day come back home to live in the beautiful mountains once more.