1972: The 1st Hospital Hospitality House

Dr. Ingraham & Dr. Murphy, 1971

The independent house that started a world-wide movement 50 years ago

Did you know that Kevin Guest House is the first independent hospital hospitality house in the country? It started when the Garvey’s arrived at the nations first comprehensive cancer center, Roswell Park Memorial Institute in July 1970. The Garvey’s recalled the hospital being in an old section of Buffalo surrounded by homes in poor repair and many marked for demolition. Up until the mid 80’s Kevin Guest House was surrounded by poor conditioned homes ready to be demolished for housing development buildings. Roswell at the time was one of the nations top research facilities and allowed for Kevin Garvey to start a new experimental drug for his first hospitalization in 1970. Much of the area was being demolished for future growth and many would it call a near miracle that the efforts of the Garvey’s and the administration at Roswell Park were able to save the properties along Ellicott Street. This photograph is of Dr. Hollis Ingraham (NYS Health Commissioner) and Dr. Gerald Murphy in 1971 during Kevin’s treatments. Dr. Murphy, Director of Roswell Park and Virginia Brady, Director of Social Work led a committee to help the Garvey’s with their vision for the first independent hospital hospitality house… as it was called then. While negotiations with the Beer family were settled in early 1972, delays from the city the sale wasn’t complete for the house at 782 Ellicott Street until January 5, 1972. Kevin passed 9 days later. In 1976, the family purchased the Cummings house at 774 Ellicott but it was beyond safe repair & was razed to add a parking lot for guests. 788 Ellicott was purchased along with the original home in 1972 and at the time was dubbed the “little red school house” with its red brick exterior that today is yellow. It was owned by the Spoth family who added the carriage apartment above the original garage located behind it. This carriage garage was hung up in legal proceedings with the City of Buffalo and wasn’t completed until 1977. The first guest was welcomed on July 26, 1972, nearly six months after young Kevin passed away. While Kevin Guest House was an independent 501(c)3 non-profit, without the partnership & leadership of Mrs. Brady & Dr. Murphy at Roswell Park, the “Pink Ladies” volunteers of Roswell Park and committees that helped make the Garvey’s dream a reality to leave an ever lasting legacy for their son Kevin, this little house in the heart of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, before it was called that and was in disrepair all around it, may have never existed.

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