W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital: The Gift of Health

On January 29, 1929—ninety years ago today—W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital opened at 1212 West Lancaster Avenue.

cook to open 1-14-29 dmnThe fifty-five-bed hospital was a gift from Mrs. Missouri Matilda Nail Cook. Fort Worth architect Wiley Clarkson designed the building. The hospital was named for Mrs. Cook’s late husband, prominent Shackelford County rancher William Ivy Cook. Clip is from the January 14 Dallas Morning News.

cook-to-open-29The hospital was dedicated on January 19 and 20. Among the hospital’s trustees were Edwin E. Bewley and Drs. K. H. and F. C. Beall.

cook-1880-censusSome background: In 1880 Mr. and Mrs. Cook were living with Mrs. Cook’s family in Fannin County. W. I., then twenty-three, listed himself as a “dealer in cattle.”

cook-1900-censusBy 1900 the Cooks were in Shackelford County, and W. I. was still a dealer in cattle—but by now a wealthy one.

cook-obit-23William Ivy Cook died in 1923.

cook-probate Cook’s $500,000 estate would be worth $7.1 million today.

cook-shackelford-poolUpon the death of W. I. Cook, his widow became a wealthy woman. But by 1926 oil wells on the Cook ranch made a wealthy woman even wealthier.

cook-announced-1926Mrs. Cook quickly found a good use for all that wealth. On July 11, 1926 the Star-Telegram announced that Mrs. Cook would build a hospital in Fort Worth and would donate oil royalties from the twenty thousand-acre Cook ranch to endow the hospital.


Mrs. Cook lived to see her hospital open in 1929 but died in 1932. She left more of her oil royalties to the hospital.

cook-51-name-changeIn 1951 the Women’s Board of the Fort Worth Children’s Hospital Association decided to change the name of the hospital to “W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital for Children.”

cook polio 7-17-52 dmnDuring the polio epidemic of the early 1950s the hospital was expanded to seventy-two beds. On July 17, 1952 the Dallas Morning News reported that Fort Worth had sixty-two polio patients, most of them being treated at City-County Hospital (renamed for John Peter Smith in 1954).

cook-53-slingIn 1953 W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital for Children installed a swimming pool with a sling to help physically challenged patients—including polio victims—into the water.

Fast-forward sixty years. The original hospital building has been expanded (for example, two stories added to the entrance), but much of the original building remains. It now houses HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. Today Cook Children’s Health Care System is headquartered at 801 7th Avenue.

Some views of W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital:

cook wide entranceThe entrance is now three stories.

cook smithW. D. Smith photo of 1940 from Fort Worth in Pictures.

cook side widecook side narrowcook pilastercook pilaster topcook healthsouthcook entrance tallcook entrance scallopcook door top sidecook detail 2cook detail 1cook babies bas-reliefcook angels bas-relief

This entry was posted in Architects, Downtown, Downtown, All Around, Heads Above the Crowd, Life in the Past Lane, Public Buildings. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital: The Gift of Health

  1. Laura Trotter says:

    My first job as an RN was at Cooks in 1979. We saw many changes there. The snack bar was replaced by an oncology clinic run by Dr Tom Miale. HIV brought about changes in practices. Ft Worth Childrens was a separate hospital and finally we joined when the new hospital was opened.

  2. Mike says:

    The entrance gate is gone, does someone know what happened?

  3. Jo Ann Turk, P. E. says:

    Why not investigate having the building placed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings? Once that is accomplished, it cannot be torn down.

  4. Kay Fulgham says:

    This is very timely. Have you noticed the FOR SALE sign there? I fear it will be torn down and replaced by a tacky apartment building or office building–over my dead body. There is a beautiful atrium inside. It is a true treasure.

    • hometown says:

      Kay, no, I did not know that. That is a prime location. I hope the building is repurposed and lives to be one hundred.

  5. Judy Ann Dwyer Myers says:

    I was a patient in 1953 with a serious case of polio and my physician was Dr. Balance Terrell. I was a patient for nine months due to being paralyzed. I received wonderful care and to this day I am healthy with no symtoms of polio. I thank God for His mercy and the knowledge of the late Dr. Terrell and staff of Cook Children’s Hospital.

    • hometown says:

      My mother was a lab technician at Cook and always spoke highly of Dr. Terrell, who was prominent in Fort Worth for decades.

  6. Brent says:

    I worked at this facility on several occasions during 1984 & 85 with Abbott Labs, we supported the Chemistry Analyer testing. Like many locals our family has been served by the kind professionals at Cook’s. Both of our children were patients. Now as life would have it I am now an employee. God as blessed what was started so many years ago.
    Many thanks Kris, for this short history story

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Brent. My mother worked in the lab there many years ago, but I never paid any attention to the building then.

  7. Kris Savage says:

    Great pictures and info about I Wiley G. Clarkson building I didn’t know about… Thanks! I’m glad it’s still there and will go searching for it.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Kris. Because the building is set back on its grounds well off the street, you can’t see the details when you drive by, as you can when you walk by a Sanguinet and Staats on a sidewalk downtown (e.g., Texas Hotel or Burk Burnett or Knights of Pythias). Would love to have seen time-lapse video of these buildings being drawn and built.

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