Over the Years 350,000 Babies Were Born at Margaret Hague Hospital…
WERE YOU ONE?
By Ricardo Kaulessar Photo by Ricardo Kaulessar
Reunions usually happen due to a shared experience: graduating from the same school, serving in the same military unit or working in the same job. But it is almost unheard of to hold a reunion for those who were born in the same hospital.
That is, unless you first came into the world at the Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital.
The legendary facility in Jersey City that for over 40 years, until its closing in 1979, had more than 350,000 babies delivered there was in the spotlight on May 16 when some of those “Margaret Hague Babies” – now full-grown adults – gathered at Zeppelin Hall in the city’s Downtown section.
The event, organized by the Jersey City Medical Center and the LibertyHealth Foundation, was attended by over 200 guests including well-known figures such as former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, now the executive director of the Jersey City Employment & Training Program, who was born at the Margaret Hague in November 1957, and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who was not born at the Margaret Hague.
McGreevey, 56, checked out a wall of fame of those born in the hospital that featured his photo. He then spoke to a reporter about the place where he first saw life just like the other two children of Veronica and Jack McGreevey.
“Jersey City has its own unique folklore and traditions, and Margaret Hague was that great maternal center that seemingly gave birth to at least half of New Jersey,” McGreevey said.
He also said that the Margaret Hague was one of the best examples of the public works projects built in the 1930’s under the Democratic machine run by Jersey City’s longest-tenured mayor and political boss Frank Hague, who named the hospital after his mother.
Along with McGreevey, others who attended spoke about the space that has been a source of pride for decades for numerous Jersey City residents.
For Shirley Hardhouse, the affection for the Margaret Hague has been a family affair as her and two of her siblings along with several of her cousins were all born there. And 20 years after her birth, it was déjà vu with her daughter coming out of the womb in the same location.
“I remember that the nurses were wonderful, they were outstanding, they were kind,” Hardhouse said.
“They gave you flowers and they gave you diapers, both the paper and cloth kind. They gave you everything to take care of the baby.”
Hardhouse then said it was “mindboggling” that the Margaret Hague does not exist anymore as a maternity center for future generations and that many people like herself laments its absence. Currently, it is one of the remaining buildings of the old Jersey City Medical Center currently being converted into condominiums as part of the still-developing Beacon residential complex.
Mark Rabson, director of public affairs for the Jersey City Medical Center, said there was discussion about holding the reunion on the premises of the original Margaret Hague at some point in the five years since the idea for the reunion first took hold. However, the developer of the Beacon told Medical Center officials to wait a few more years for the renovation of the building to be completed.
But Rabson said the success of this first reunion, which saw many attendees wear t-shirts that proclaimed ‘Born at the Margaret Hague,’ will probably lead to future ones being held at the actual location.