In the past, in Old Los Angeles, about one out of every five locals was French, Quebecois, or a native French speaker from somewhere else, such as Switzerland, Belgium, or Louisiana. After a smallpox epidemic, the French community decided to establish its own healthcare system in 1860. By 1869, the French Benevolent Society was able to lay the French Hospital’s cornerstone at 531 West College Street.
A statue of Jeanne d’Arc, copied from an 1895 original by Adolphe Roberton, was installed on the hospital’s front lawn by the Native Daughters of the Golden West in 1964. There are 24 copies of Roberton’s statue, but this is the only one outside of France.
Time passed, and the surrounding neighborhood changed from Sonoratown/Little Italy to Chinatown. The adobe hospital built in 1869 was replaced by a state-of-the-art (for the time) facility in 1915. The French Hospital changed hands in 1989, becoming the Pacific Alliance Medical Center. The hospital closed permanently in 2018, and the French Benevolent Society sold it to new owners. Jeanne d’Arc promptly vanished from the front lawn.
The French Benevolent Society declined to disclose Jeanne’s fate. But one very persistent blogger discovered that Jeanne had been donated to Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. Today, Jeanne stands guard over the hospital’s Healing Garden.
The old French Hospital is currently behind demolition fencing, but it’s not being demolished. The new owners, Allied Pacific IPA, are converting the building into an urgent care center.