Honoring Cornelia Prime
Town of Huntington and Huntington Hospital Northwell Health officials were joined by New York State and Suffolk County officials to dedicate View Acre Drive as Cornelia Prime Way to honor Huntington Hospital’s female benefactor, Cornelia Prime, on Cornelia Prime Day, Thursday, August 1, 2019, to coincide with the installation of the original plaque honoring Cornelia Prime's gift at the main entrance of the hospital the same day.
Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci stated: “Cornelia Prime was one of the most generous philanthropists of the early twentieth century, and we, as residents of Huntington, have reaped the benefits of her generosity. The movement to establish the original Huntington Hospital was an effort largely spearheaded by women.”
At the turn of the twentieth century, discussions arose about the need for a hospital in Huntington; the closest hospital at the time was in Mineola. Many attempts were made to fundraise for a new hospital, but it was only until 1911, when Mrs. Roland Conklin of Rosemary Farm was selected as chair of the Huntington Association committee, that any movement ensued. Mrs. Conklin, along with 16 other women, put on a performance of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and raised $2,000, spring-boarding a push for a new hospital. Another woman, Lucie Winkworth, is also attributed with the inspiration for Huntington Hospital. Winkworth began her own small private hospital, Winkworth Hospital, the day-to-day operations of which exposed the need for an up-to-date, better-equipped facility.
When fundraising finally picked up, disputes emerged over the location of the new hospital, but Cornelia Prime took matters into her own hands. She purchased a five-acre site on Park Avenue in December 1914, paying $20,000 for the property and its conversion into a hospital. When it was later decided that a new hospital should be built, Ms. Prime remained supportive of the cause, and agreed to underwrite the full cost of construction. The total gift, including the land purchase and construction of the new buildings, amounted to $75,000, the equivalent of $1.17 million today.
Cornelia Prime’s legacy doesn’t end with Huntington Hospital. She and her family also helped finance the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building, which housed the first library in town; the clock tower on Old Town Hall; St. John’s Episcopal Church on Main Street; Grace Chapel in Huntington Station (now Mt. Calvary Holy Church of Huntington); and the Trade School Building on Main Street.
Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia stated: “It was a pleasure to see the Town of Huntington and Northwell Hospital honor Cornelia Prime, a philanthropic woman who had the foresight to donate the funds to purchase the land and build a hospital for our residents. The dedication of Cornelia Prime Way will bring attention to another noteworthy historical site.”
“Today is the day we honor Cornelia Prime, Huntington Hospital's female benefactor who donated not only the land but the building for Huntington Hospital. This generous gift allowed our community to have a hospital to serve its needs, and grow as we have grown as a community. I not only thank Cornelia Prime for her generosity, but I also would like to thank the staff members of Huntington Hospital who continue to serve our community in their time of need,” said Councilman Eugene Cook.
Representing Huntington Hospital Northwell Health at the ceremony were Keith Friedlander, Chairman of the Board, Huntington Hospital Board of Trustees; Susan Knoepffler, RN, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer; and James Romanelli, MD, MBA, Chief of Staff.