Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Tom Menino, and a host of other elected officials gathered in the Charlestown Thursday for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
The eight-story facility, which will be located on First Avenue in the Charlestown Navy Yard, is set to open in December 2012.
“The ground’s kind of broken out there already,” Spaulding president David Storto told the crowd during scheduled remarks after the groundbreaking ceremony, noting the giant hole that marks the hospital's future location.
The facility will replace the hospital's current main campus on Nashua Street in Boston. Spaulding also has locations in Braintree, Cambridge, Lexington and Framingham.
The $220 million construction project will create 300 union jobs for people in the state, Storto said.
Congressman Michael Capuano and state Rep. Eugene O'Flaherty joined Patrick and Menio, as well as city councillors, union leaders, other officials, Spaulding board members, employees, and patients, at a ceremony on the lawn of the Harborview Residential Building.
Menino recalled that he spent time at the hospital in November and December 2009, following a knee injury. “I’m so happy to be here because I know the kind of work that goes on at Spaulding,” he said, joking about the small size of the rooms.
“I want to welcome all of you to the great neighborhood of Charlestown,” O’Flaherty, a Democrat from Charlestown, said during his remarks.
Like Menino, O’Flaherty recalled a personal connection to the hospital. “In the final days of my dad’s life, he’d been in and out of Spaulding,” he recalled, thanking the staff for what they did for him personally and for his district.
“All I can say is wow…it really is so exciting,” said Helen Spaulding, an honorary member of the Spaulding Board of Trustees. Her husband, Josiah Spaulding, founded the hospital in 1970.
Spaulding recalled that back in 1980, when she was affiliated with the New England Aquarium, there was discussion about moving the aquarium to the parcel of land that is the hospital's future home.
The move didn’t happen, and now the hospital will have the spot overlooking the harbor and the Mystic River Bridge. “Thank goodness,” Spaulding said.