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The civil hospitals

The first establishment was a "barn used as an almshouse" for poor and ill people in 1668 run by charity women. Situated on les Pâtis, between the Rue de la Brêche and the fountain de Marolles, this building was rent by the Navy in 1689 to receive the "plague-stricken" patients.In fact, in the XVIth, XVIIth and even XVIIIth centuries this term included the plague, and also the cholera and other infectious diseases such as the typhus fever.

The general hospital was first a hospital for the poor people set up in 1706 by Mme Desgraviers, head of the Charity Sisters. Thanks to the alms and collections, they bought a house in Le Lohic with two hospitalisation rooms : one for men, one for women.

lettre patentes de l'hôpital
Manifest putting the hospital under King's rule in 1712
archives port-Louis. vannes
In 1712, the hospital obtained a patent to exercise under the king's protection and gained a certain number of privileges : the exemption from taxes, the benefit of fees like having the monopoly of selling meat during Lent, of collecting the quarter of the legal fines and later the exclusiveness of funeral supplies such as coffins and hired mourners' hoods. We may also add the distribution of drinking water (1767), the benefit of the Papegault grant (1770) and the rent of the removal of sreet-muds (1785).

These revenues permitted to look after the poor but also the forsaken children, the inmates and since 1720, soldiers and sailors. During the wars against England, it was called St Louis hospital like the former Navy hospital. Because of the great number of injured soldiers, it became short of staff, the task being too heavy for the Charity Sisters..

In 1761, four, and later, five sisters of the monastic order, Sisters of Wisdom, came from Vendée to take the hospital in charge. A doctor from the city attended the poor gratis. As for the soldiers they received cares from a doctor and three surgeons from the Navy. There was also a chaplain in the establishment. In 1779, the sisters opened a hospital for "venereal" patients. Things went on for the best till the Revolution, on account of two resolutions : the suppression of privileges which deprived the hospital of a great part of its revenues, the chaplain being under oath of allegiance to the Constitution, the seven sisters resigned and left Port-Louis on October 8th 1791. A committee of five citizens, which chairman was the Mayor, was entrusted with the management of the hospital, and to replace the sisters,four widows were called "hospital citizens".
sisters of wisdom - coll. part.
In April 1817, the Sisters of Wisdom were called back to the hospital. They were five, and ten later on. They only took care of the poor, the management being committed to an administrative board. For lack of resources, the activities were diminishing so the sisters were dismissed (in 1855 only five sisters were left). In 1856, at the mayor's request, they opened a school for the poor girls.In 1857, taking a colleague's advice, the mayor committed the management to the Sisters of Wisdom, the congregation keeping the accounts of the establishment. Consequently the school and the hospital grew to a charity board and a children home.

The Sisters of Wisdom gave cooperation to the Navy Hospital during the epidemic in May 1859, and they staid until 1906.During the first World War (1914-1918) the establishment received refugees on several occasions.

sisters of wisdom - coll. part.
Between the two wars, modernization and extending works were undertaken and in 1927 the town council took back the management of the hospital.

From the beginning of the second World War (1939-1945) the establishment had to face successive waves of ill refugees coming from the North of France, and they even had to find place for fifty children from Rouen in the eight sisters' care. And on June 21st 1940, the German soldiers arrived in Port-Louis… Provisioning was difficult, bombardments started : so the children went back to Rouen and the hospital found shelter in Crevy castle, near Ploermel, in July 1942.

The resumption of residence in Port-Louis took place in July 1946 in a building damaged by the troops.

A new director and a treasurer put a new organization in place. Modern detached buildings and a chapel were constructed to reach 300 beds in 1965.

But on December 31st 1977, considering the amount of work to face, the Sisters of Wisdom cancelled their agreement with the hospital.

The buildings you can see today are the most recent ones.

last modification : 05 27 2005