On January 29, 1929—ninety years ago today—W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital opened at 1212 West Lancaster Avenue.
The 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.
Some 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.”
By 1900 the Cooks were in Shackelford County, and W. I. was still a dealer in cattle—but by now a wealthy one.
William Ivy Cook died in 1923.
Cook’s $500,000 estate would be worth $7.1 million today.
Upon 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.
Mrs. 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.
In 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.”
During 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).
In 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:
The entrance is now three stories.
W. D. Smith photo of 1940 from Fort Worth in Pictures.