Baptist Hospital was located at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue at Ballinger Street. The history of this hospital, because of its location, touches on the history of Quality Hill and of Fort Worth’s original medical district.
But the Baptist Hospital in the 1924 city directory originally had a different name. The hospital had opened in 1921 as “Protestant Hospital,” built by Drs. A. R. Ponton and H. V. Johnson.
By 1921 economic developments such as the Stockyards and packing plants and the oil boom had given Fort Worth a population of 107,000 served by a variety of health-care institutions ranging from general hospitals to private sanitariums.
Among those listed in the 1921 city directory:
All Saints Episcopal Hospital (1906; see Part 1) was Fort Worth’s second general hospital.
City-County Hospital had opened in 1914 on East 4th Street downtown.
Dr. Charles H. Harris’s sanitarium at 1028 5th Avenue just north of Rosedale Street had opened about 1912 as one of the first facilities in what would become Fort Worth’s original medical district.
Dr. Clay Johnson had opened his sanitarium on Lamar Street in 1907 (see Part 2).
St. Joseph’s Infirmary (1883) was Fort Worth’s first general hospital.
Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital had opened in 1918 at 2400 Winton Terrace West off University Drive north of today’s Park Hill Drive. The hospital was held in trust by the Fort Worth Federation of Women’s Clubs. It had twenty-two beds for babies and fifteen for older children. (1920 map detail from Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)
Head of the medical staff of the baby hospital was Dr. Khleber (as in Khleber Miller Van Zandt) Heberden Beall, brother of Dr. Frank C. Beall (see Part 2). By 1923 the hospital was renamed “Fort Worth Children’s Hospital” and in 1961 moved to a new thirty-four-bed facility at 1400 Cooper Street in the original medical district.
Additionally, the Baptist Seminary provided a settlement house for “working girls” on Central Avenue on the North Side. Settlement houses offered services such as education, health care, and day care to help the needy, especially immigrants from Europe, break the cycle of poverty. The Stockyards and packing plants employed many European immigrants.
Tarrant County Orphans Home on East Lancaster Avenue (Stop 5 on the interurban) had opened in 1908 as the “Tarrant County Benevolent Home,” relocating from the former brothel of madam Frankie Brown in the Samuels Avenue neighborhood.
Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society (see Part 1) was now on Avenue E in Poly (Edna Gladney would become superintendent in 1927).
Ad for Protestant Hospital in the Jewish Monitor of 1921. “The dread of going to a hospital in the minds of so many patients is not known in this modern institution.”
Protestant Hospital had three floors, sixty-five beds, living quarters for forty nurses, and a tennis court for nurses. The architect was Wiley Clarkson, who also designed the Clay Johnson Sanitarium (see Part 2) and the 1939 City-County Hospital.
Protestant Hospital, at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, was one of the early encroachments of the medical district on Quality Hill. Winfield Scott’s widow still lived across the street from the new hospital. So did Benbrook landowner Z. Boaz and cattleman Sam Davidson.
The north side of the 1400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue had been platted into only four residential lots, and there were only three houses. Big houses. Although Protestant Hospital’s address was 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, the building occupied the residential lot formerly numbered 1404. That had been the address for about fifteen years of Harvey Burns Herd. Herd was an attorney, banker, cattleman, and the Texas agent for cereal magnate and former Fort Worth resident C. W. Post. To the west lived W. Scott Wilson, a prominent banker and lumber dealer, at 1422 and Thomas D. Ross, an attorney, at 1430. (In 1911 Albert B. Wharton was the man of the house at 1509, which was originally the home of Wharton and wife Electra Waggoner and then of Winfield Scott and his wife. Today, of course, the house is “Thistle Hill.”)
But a year after Protestant Hospital opened, the Southern Baptist Convention bought it and changed the name to “Baptist Hospital.”
The convention also bought the James F. Moore house at 1326 Pennsylvania Avenue across Ballinger Street to convert into living quarters for the hospital’s nurses.
Baptist Hospital’s motto: “Where the patient is the unit.”
Perhaps Baptist Hospital’s most famous “unit” was a small one: On August 16, 1924 Mrs. Fess Elisha Parker gave birth to a bouncing baby future king of the wild frontier. In 1969 Star-Telegram entertainment columnist Elston Brooks recalled his first meeting with Fess Parker Jr. in 1955 during the Davy Crockett craze and wrote that Parker had been born in “the old Pennsylvania Avenue Hospital.” . . .
But the hospital was not renamed “Pennsylvania Avenue Hospital” until about 1943.
And by 1943 health-care institutions familiar to us today had appeared in the city directory:
City-County Hospital had moved into a new building on South Main in 1939, although not until 1954 would it be renamed for John Peter Smith.
Cook Children’s Hospital had opened in 1929.
Dr. Charles H. Harris had opened his clinic at 650 5th Avenue in 1938.
In 1930 the state Methodist conference had opened Methodist Hospital at 1300 West Cannon Street, and in 1937 that hospital became “Harris Memorial Methodist Hospital” with Dr. Harris as supervisor.
Dr. Riley Andrew Ransom had built a new hospital on East 1st Street.
The U.S. Public Health Hospital had opened in Forest Hill.
Volunteers of America maternity home had opened about 1921 on Avenue J in Poly.
In 1950 the Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society would buy the West Texas Maternity Hospital at 2300 Hemphill Street. The hospital would become Edna Gladney Home.
By 1951, as this map shows, Quality Hill was disappearing as the medical district and apartments took more and more property. On this map the buildings labeled “C” (some of them converted Quality Hill houses) were clinics. The James F. Moore house (MH, 1906) became Robertson-Mueller-Harper funeral home but is now part of the compound of the Woman’s Club of Fort Worth (WC, 1903-1949). The Neil P. Anderson house (GW, c. 1910) became Gause-Ware funeral home. Thistle Hill (TH, 1904) in 1951 belonged to the Girls Service League. Large apartment buildings included the Westchester House (WH, 1951), Lucerne Apartments (LA, 1919), and Woodlea Apartments (WA, 1920). Large medical facilities were Pennsylvania Avenue Hospital (PAH, 1921), Harris Hospital (HH, 1930), and Harris Clinic (HC, 1938).
The Quality Hill houses that stood where the Westchester House stands today included those of Colonel Christopher Augustus O’Keefe and Cass Edwards, son of Lemuel Edwards. The grand 1897 O’Keefe house (“another of Fort Worth’s diminishing landmarks,” the Star-Telegram wrote) was demolished in 1950 to make way for the Westchester House.
The Star-Telegram story of 1950 describes the O’Keefe mansion’s “castle-like appearance.” See those columns along the wrap-around porch? Some of them were rescued by C. L. Richhart and can be seen today in Botanic Garden.
Pennsylvania Avenue Hospital in 1947. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.)
Postcard from Barbara Love Logan.
Pennsylvania Avenue Hospital (PAH) and the Lucerne Apartments (LA) can be seen in this 1952 aerial photo. Also shown are the James F. Moore house (MH) and Thistle Hill (TH).
In 1957 the hospital that had begun its career in 1921 as “Protestant Hospital” was renamed yet again: “Doctors General Hospital.”
Ten years later, in 1967, the old hospital was renamed again. It became “Fort Worth General Hospital.” But Fort Worth General soon closed, and the building for a while housed Fort Worth Medical Laboratory.
In the 1980s the building that once housed Protestant, Baptist, Pennsylvania Avenue, Doctors General, and Fort Worth General Hospital was torn down as the hungry medical district cannibalized one of its own: A hospital building was torn down to make room for a hospital . . . wait for it . . . parking lot.