What do Eatonville and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital have in common? Answer: Dr. A. W. Bridge.
In 1909 a young doctor, Albert Wellington (A.W.) Bridge, schooled at the Vermont Medical School, arrived in Eatonville carrying his bicycle and all his earthy possessions. He’d lost his father to a logging accident and his late mother had worked in a sawmill. Now he was focused on providing services to logging camps and lumber mills.
The town was in need of a doctor and T.C. Van Eaton offered to build him a clinic if he’d set up shop in Eatonville.
Taking Care of Loggers
A.W. settled in and got right to work. He set up clinics in Kapowsin, Mineral, Ashford and Morton. He also established one of the first medical plans for loggers and lumber company employees — $1 a month for medical care
The doctor didn’t just provide care to loggers. You could find him traveling out to farms — first by horse and buggy and then by car — to deliver babies and care for the sick and injured. Despite this incredibly busy schedule, he still found time to serve as Eatonville’s mayor in 1919.
Estate Goes to Children
When Dr. Bridge passed away in 1949 he surprised many by leaving a half million dollar estate ($4.5 million in today’s dollars). He said all his money was to go to a group or hospital for children, but there was one stipulation. It must be named after his mother and inspiration, Mary Bridge.
The years between 1909 and 1949 were filled with lots of colorful stories, which will be the subject of future columns. Until then, take a look around Eatonville. Dr. Bridge’s footprint is still here.
• The annual Eatonville Country Christmas bizarre, which raises money for Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, is put on by the A. W. Bridge Orthopedic Guild.
• Dr. Bridge’s home still stands. Today it’s more commonly known as the Cruiser Café.
• The doctor had his offices above Kirk’s Pharmacy.
• He also practiced at the old Eatonville hospital, which is now a residence across from the Eatonville High School.