SO many stories "bounce" around the patchwork of buildings and corridors of the old Maitland Hospital.
The odd, the emotional, and the endearing.
But it is these stories and special memories - collected over more than 170 years by generations of Maitland residents - that remind us where we have been, and where we are going.
Today (Wednesday, January 19) patients will begin to be transferred from the old Maitland Hospital to the new $470 million facility.
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But local historian Janis Wilton, who has co-curated a collection of stories, objects and artworks for an exhibition inspired by the old hospital, said it was important that we understand, appreciate and engage with our past before we move on.
"What has struck me most in doing this whole project is the attachment of people to the hospital," Dr Wilton said.
"It has been there for over 170 years on the one site, and there are lots of local residents who have worked there and some have even had one, two or even three generations of people in their families who were employed at the hospital.
"There has been an overwhelming reaction and attachment to the hospital."
Dr Wilton said the hospital originally opened in the 1840s as a charity.
"It began as a hospital for the poor and homeless," she said. "It was called the Maitland Benevolent Asylum but quickly became a hospital for those who could not afford to have medical care at home.
"It was run by local residents who raised the money and then lobbied the government for more money before the hospital expanded into the public hospital we know today."
The "patchwork" of buildings still has some "incredible" art deco features, intricate ceilings, and a beautiful staircase. An old rocking horse - that had been in the children's ward of the hospital since the 1930s - formed part of the A Conspicuous Object - The Maitland Hospital exhibition at Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
Dr Wilton said the inclusion of the rocking horse in the exhibition had triggered responses from Maitland residents who remembered playing on it while at the hospital, or those who had photographs of one of their parents on the horse.
The new hospital would feature some of the old photographs and stories they had unearthed while working on this "collected memory" project.
"It is a recognition of the continuity of there being a hospital in Maitland, and it is carrying those memories into the new hospital," she said. "It is acknowledging its history and its achievements while accepting that the hospital needed renewal.
"It was time. It was clearly time. It was bursting at the seams. "People have wonderful memories of working there - some have less than wonderful - but it really was time for a new facility."
From today (Wednesday, January 19) the staff, patients and services at the existing Maitland Hospital site - which has just under 200 beds - will be directly transferred to the new 339-bed facility.
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