“What’s the story behind Camillus House and how did Miami settle on this area for such a concentration of hospitals?”
That’s the question a majority of you wanted answered for the latest installment of our Allapattah-focused series. And so we’re answering it for you today.
The question came to us from reader Kevin Almassian. And the answer, like many things in Miami’s history, has a lot to do with location.
Camillus House was founded in Miami back in 1960 by the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd organization. It was initially just an overnight shelter that mostly helped Cuban refugees.
It’s grown over time into a larger entity that provides healthcare, shelter, and other treatment to poor residents and people experiencing homelessness.
But it only recently moved to the Allapattah area. The organization was previously housed in downtown Miami but moved, in part, to be closer to Jackson Memorial Hospital (more on that in a sec). Another factor in the move? Miami’s changing skyline, says historian Paul George
“There was a lot of pressure to get it out of there for the sake of redevelopment,” George explained, adding that city officials and nearby property owners complained about the people seeking shelter and crowding the streets near the facility.
And what about Jackson?
The establishment of Jackson in its current location, along with some of the other nearby medical facilities, was all about taking advantage of available land in Miami’s early days.
George says the previous home of Miami’s main hospital, the Florida East Coast Hospital, was off what’s now known as Biscayne Boulevard making it closer to the water in downtown.
When city leaders looked to establish a new hospital location, they built another facility in downtown. But when that location didn’t work out, they moved the new city hospital to where Jackson now stands.
Why did that area seem promising in the first place?
“I think they were just looking for land and there was nothing really there besides piney woods,” George said. “And it was within the city limits, so they could call it Miami City Hospital.”
Since setting up shop more than a century ago, the area has become a sort of “health care region,” as George calls it. The Lindsey Hopkins Technical College is nearby, along with several University of Miami medical buildings and Miami Dade College’s medical campus.