Children’s Specialized Hospital Celebrates 125th Anniversary by Saying Hats Off

June 13, 2016

This year marks Children’s Specialized Hospital’s 125th anniversary of helping children with special healthcare needs achieve more of their goals.  

IFrameIt was 125 years ago that group of concerned Westfield residents held their first meeting to discuss how they could help the unfortunate children living in tenements in nearby cities.  William G. Peckham and Laura Thurston Peckham led the group which organized a Board of Managers and named Laura as president.  The group decided to operate a summer haven for the children in the hopes that a respite from city life would bolster their health and well being.  The local residents eagerly raised money through bake sales and benefits and collected household items and furnishings to outfit a "home away from home" for the children.

July 15, 1892, Children’s welcomed its first residents to its home at the Levi Cory House at the corner of Mountain Avenue and New Providence Road. The 59 children who stayed at Children’s that summer relished life in the country. Most had only known poverty, deprivation, and squalor in the urban slums they called home. After a two-week stay filled with plenty of good food, fresh air, and exercise, they were returned home with new clothes, shoes, and hats donated by charitable folks. While Children’s was originally intended as a respite from city life, it soon became apparent that the children were in desperate need of medical attention. Local doctors, dentists, and nurses donated their time and skills to tend to their various needs.

Now in its third century of caring for children in need, Children’s Specialized Hospital’s history is unique however the mission hasn’t changed – to be the nation's leading provider of specialized healthcare services for infants, children and young adults.  The services have evolved with the ever changing needs of its community.    

To commemorate their actual anniversary of their date of incorporation, June 8, 1891 – the hospital staff, and patients, said “Hats Off” by wearing fun and creative hats!  

“Hats Off” is a unique way to show appreciation to early founders, supporters, physicians, and dedicated staff members who have helped Children’s Specialized Hospital grow to meet the demanding needs of children recovering from traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, or to treat the thousands of children on the autism spectrum and those with complex medical needs.  Visit the special website ( dedicated to the 125th anniversary full of trivia, interactive timeline, videos and decades of patient stories. 

“I think what Children’s does best is the way we literally wrap our arms around the families and the patients that we treat,” said Philip Salerno, III, chief development officer and president, Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation. “As hard as we work, I want to make sure that we spend as much time celebrating the achievements that we have but also celebrating the lives of the children who we have been able to help along the way.”

The annual Walk n’ Roll was the official kickoff to the 125th anniversary yearlong celebration, with the “Hats Off” theme.  To say “Hats Off,” over 2,200 kids, parents, community members, and hospital staff showed their support for the programs and care provided by Children’s Specialized Hospital by raising over $300,000. Everyone stayed for the free kids’ carnival with food, games, prizes and fun! 

This was the second special event for the 125 anniversary of partnering with families and a great opportunity to celebrate that Children’s Specialized Hospital treats nearly 29,000 patients from birth to age 21 with special healthcare needs each year at 13 locations across New Jersey.

Visit the hospital’s special 125th anniversary website for future events and find out how you or your business or organization can get involved today!

For more information or to donate, visit

Children’s Specialized Hospital is the nation’s leading provider of inpatient and outpatient care for children from birth to 21 years of age facing special health challenges — from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues like autism and mental health. At thirteen different New Jersey locations, our pediatric specialists partner with families to make our many innovative therapies and medical treatments more personalized and children can achieve more of their goals.  To help, or find more information: call 888-CHILDRENS; visit; Facebook:; Twitter:; YouTube:; LinkedIn:'s-specialized-hospital