The Martha G. Ripley Maternity Hospital
I’ve been taking a different route to work the past couple of weeks and I pass by an old, boarded-up (read: slightly-creepy) building in North Mpls on Glenwood Avenue. Today I noticed a name carved above the main entrance as I flew by on the bus. It read, “Ripley Memorial Hospital.”
Sufficiently intrigued to ask the Internet what it knew about this neat old building when I got home, the first match to my search took me to the website of the Action Squad: Minneapolis Urban Adventurers. I vaguely recall visting a much earlier version of the site years ago. (They’ve been around since ’96.)
What’s the Action Squad? In their words, “In a nutshell, Action Squad explores. This generally occurs late at night, to aid in avoiding other people, particularly those with badges and funny blue uniforms. We climb buildings, sneak into factories, crawl through all kinds of tunnels, spelunk old brewery caves, poke around abandoned buildings, and run across the rooftops.” In other words, they’ve been inside the building that piqued my curiosity and provide some history, photos of the inside, and some neat historical photos via the MN State Historical
Society. I digress.
As it turns out, the hospital was founded in 1886 by Dr. Martha G. Ripley, a physician and early activist for women’s civil rights. It was built to care for unwed mothers and their “out-of-wedlock” children. It’s currently boarded up, but it’s on the National Registry of Historic Places and due to be refurbed as multi-use space. Good. I find
old buildings like these with odd histories terribly fascinating and it disappoints me how quick Minneapolis has been to rip down the old stuff without a second thought. I do feel like there’s a little more effort to preserve more historically significant things in the city lately and it makes me very happy to see one like this stick around.