The interior of the German Village building that will house the Fort Hamilton Hospital Foundation will undergo lots of renovation before it is occupied in March. PROVIDED

Fort Hamilton foundation renovating 1800s home of historic Hamilton resident

The building that was owned by Samuel Fitton (1846-1920), who started out as an assistant cashier of the First National Bank & Trust Co. and later became the bank’s president.

“It was essentially a Civil War-era house, I believe 1861 is the construction date,” said Sonja Kranbuhl, director of the hospital’s foundation, which was created in 1987, the same year she moved to the area and began working on such things as adding German Village to the National Register of Historic Places.

The foundation bought the house at 329 N. 3rd St. for $60,000 from the non-profit CORE Fund, which works to improve crumbling Hamilton buildings and return them to use.

She likes the fact that the building will help create “an unofficial foundation row, with the Hamilton Community Foundation (at 319 N. 3rd St.), the United Way (323 N. 3rd St.), and then our foundation.”

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“The hope is to create more visibility for the hospital foundation, and build awareness around health-care and wellness needs for the community, and then to partner with other non-profits,” Kranbuhl said. The move also should help the foundation build more coalitions and collaborations, she added.

During the 1880s, Fitton advocated building municipal electric, gas and water plants, and also helped organize the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

Once a single-family home, it was divided into about four apartments for many years, and “it was definitely abused, to say the least,” Kranbuhl said. The interior restoration will be nicely done, but will not be a historic one, because “so much was lost over the years because of alterations that happened over probably the last 50- or 60 years,” she said.

“We are trying to save what we can, and restore it as much as possible, but it is not an accurate, historic restoration,” she said. The building required replacement of its major systems, such as heating and cooling, but with the stock market thriving this year, the foundation decided to make the investment.

While the foundation will use the whole building as its offices, “We’re keeping it as residential as possible, just in case the foundation were ever to sell it, that it could be very easily converted to a single-family home,” she said.

The first floor has five rooms plus a bathroom and entry hall. The second level has four rooms, two full bathrooms and a laundry room.

Sheryl Silber, a recent past president of German Village Inc., was pleased to see the building being reused.

“We’re hoping that it will bring a lot of activity, we’ll see a lot of people going in and out,” Silber said. “It’s always good to have more people going through the neighborhood who have never been here so they can see what we have to offer.”

“A lot of people will tell me they haven’t been to the German Village in years, and didn’t realize how much it had changed,” Silber said. “They live in Hamilton.”

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The hospital foundation was founded to support the hospital, purchase equipment, help underwrite services and raise money for specific programs. But it also supports wellness and health in the community, and partners with other agencies. Earlier this year it gave the Hamilton schools and firefighters $10,000 to provide stop-the-bleed kits, which would be used in the event of a mass shooting.

For the hospital’s 90th anniversary this year, the foundation raised $2.2 million for the hospital’s new special-care nursery and the new cancer center.

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