Playing Peek-a-Boo with the Past

jpr surviving wing

These brick walls have a story behind them. In fact, these brick walls have a story on all sides of them.

jps mugWe can begin the story in 1877, when civic leader John Peter Smith donated five acres of land for a city hospital. The land was located well south of the city at the time, and the city did not make use of the land for years, even though in 1883 Fort Worth’s first general hospital—St. Joseph Infirmary—opened across South Main Street to serve, initially, the Missouri Pacific railroad.

jps 94 medical school july 26 94 gazIn 1894 Fort Worth University (founded 1881) opened its Fort Worth Medical College. Among the college’s doctors were William A. Duringer, William Paxton Burts (first mayor of Fort Worth), Julian Theodore Feild (son of pioneer Julian Feild), and Bacon Saunders (who built the Flatiron Building in 1907). Clip is from the July 27, 1894 Fort Worth Gazette.

jps 1896 cdThe medical college originally was at Commerce and 7th streets. Nearby Hell’s Half Acre kept medical students supplied with patients on whom to practice suturing knife wounds, excising bullets, treating drug overdoses, etc. Clip is from the 1896 city directory.

jps 1907 greater fort worthBut by 1906 the medical college was located at East 5th and Calhoun streets. It included a hospital where students trained.

jps city-county 1914Fort Worth University closed in 1911, and TCU took over the medical college.

city county 1913 In 1914 the city and county built City-County Hospital (designed by Sanguinet and Staats) on East 4th Street at Jones Street, just across the alley from the medical college. Soon the medical college was “resolved with” the new hospital. Among the hospital’s early challenges was the flu epidemic of 1918. But that same year the medical college left TCU and became part of Baylor University in Dallas. Note that the news story says the city and county already had plans to build a larger hospital “on the Peter Smith site on the south side.”

jps 4-26-14 spreadThe 1914 building continued to house City-County Hospital until 1939, when a new City-County Hospital finally was built on South Main on the land that John Peter Smith had donated in 1877. In 1943 the 1914 City-County building was headquarters for military police stationed here. In the early 1950s it was a polio treatment center. The building is now Maddox-Muse Center, part of the Bass Hall complex. Star-Telegram clip is from April 26, 1914. Note that the nurse was drawn by Plang.

city-county moved to jps 39The new City-County Hospital opened in July 1939. Among its early challenges was the polio epidemic of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

jps smith and pattersonThe new hospital was yet another beautiful building designed by the prolific Wiley Clarkson. (Top photo by W. D. Smith in Fort Worth in Pictures, 1940. Bottom photo courtesy of Jim Patterson.)

JPS 52 aerialThis aerial photo was taken in 1952. The original building already had been expanded.

city-county renamed jps 54City-County Hospital was renamed for John Peter Smith in 1954. 

jps googleExpansion—including an eleven-story tower—continued in the 1960s and 1970s as the 1939 building was swallowed. I have outlined in yellow the part of the 1939 building still visible from the air. (Some of Fort Worth’s original school buildings likewise are hidden inside decades of expansion.)

elevator insetInset is an enlargement of the Patterson photo showing just the top story of the original building. Want a closer look?

1938-31938-1These closeup photos of the exterior of the top story of the original building show Clarkson’s attention to art deco styling. (Closeup photos from Jill “J. R.” Labbe, vice president, communications and community affairs, JPS Health Network.)

jpr surviving wingThe end of the north wing is the only part of the original building still visible from street level. Apparently between 1948 and 1952 a bay (for a stairwell or elevator?) was added to the north wing, which today plays peek-a-boo with us from the past.

Bonus Hospital Peek-a-Boo with the Past

Here’s another Fort Worth hospital whose original building is largely enclosed by expansion.

bonus harris The top photo, a recent Google aerial, shows the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth campus stretching from Pennsylvania Avenue south to Terrell Street and from 6th Avenue east to Henderson Street. The bottom aerial photo, from 1952, shows that area when the original Harris Hospital building (left side of photo), also designed by—again—Wiley Clarkson in 1930, was the only Harris building. From the sky you can see that the building has what architects call a “radial” footprint. It looks like a letter H doing jumping jacks. The original building’s address was 1300 West Cannon Street. With expansion to a “campus,” the hospital ate part of Cannon Street and a chunk of Pruitt Street. Now the hospital’s address is 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue. Harris Hospital was a major encroachment on Quality Hill as the city’s original medical district grew.

harris smithW. D. Smith photo of the 1940s from Fort Worth in Pictures.

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7 Responses to Playing Peek-a-Boo with the Past

  1. Amber Maddux says:

    based on your website and the article regarding R R Ramey 9525 land survey you might have knowledge regarding what is now 3201 Sandy Lane and a very very very old rock fireplace that still stands today. Has the hooks still in it from when a gun was most likely put to rest up top during the night. Our piece of land has great history and we’ve gone through it all but the chimney has no actual records. Owned by waples platter known as the handley farm; owned by Boswell; had the Pike Drive Inn on the property. Please get in touch if anything rings bells or jogs memory.

    • hometown says:

      Amber, thank you for sharing the history of that chimney/fireplace with me. It appears from the research you showed me to be one of the oldest structures in the county, possibly dating even to the days of the republic. Good on Aerospace Optics for preserving it.

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