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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | OXNARD

Clinic to Reopen as Seniors' Housing

July 25, 1999|TRACY WILSON

The 71-year-old Lying-In Hospital and Sanatorium in Oxnard will open its doors this week as a low-cost housing unit for seniors while being designated a Ventura County historic landmark.

A community celebration to commemorate the maternity hospital's landmark status is scheduled for Friday.

Built in 1928, the clinic specialized in "twilight sleep," a revolutionary method of drug-assisted painless childbirth that attracted expectant mothers from across the region.

Dr. Floyd Swift delivered about 5,000 babies at the 5th Street facility before retiring in 1962.

After Swift's death in 1980, the hospital compound deteriorated. It was turned into an office, then a drug rehabilitation center.

In 1994, Mercy Charities Housing California, a nonprofit group based in San Francisco, bought the facility so it could be razed for senior apartments.

But preservationists did not want to see part of Oxnard's history torn down. They pushed instead for renovation, and now the old maternity ward has been transformed into a 40-unit apartment complex.

Two wings were built on the property. The former Swift family residence and parts of the original hospital have been restored and converted into a community room and library.

Community members are still working on a plan to create a permanent display at the facility. Using photographs and documents, they hope to trace the hospital's history from the 1920s to its closure.

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