Hospitals After St. Joseph’s: Benefits, Bealls, and Baby Davy (Part 3)

The third hospital on pages 130 and 131 of the 1924 city directory (see Part 1 and Part 2) was Baptist Hospital of Fort Worth:

hospitals top 24 cd adbaptist blue book photo of PAHBaptist 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.

baptist 21 open houseBut 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.

baptist 21 22 cdBy 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.

•Dr. Riley Andrew Ransom operated Booker T. Washington Sanitarium (1919) on East 5th Street in Fort Worth’s African-American downtown.

•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.

•Dr. Amos C. Walker had rebuilt his sanitarium (1901; see Part 2) on Broadway Street after the South Side fire of 1909.

baptist 20 rogers baby 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.”)

baptist baby hospital 18On January 9, 1918 Vernon Castle had performed at a benefit for the baby hospital. Five weeks later Castle was killed in an airplane crash at Carruthers Field.

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).

baptist 21 jewish monitorAd 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.

baptists 1911 herd wilson ross 1400 sanbornThe 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.”)

baptist 21 nurses wantedNurses wanted.

baptist 22 dedicateBut a year after Protestant Hospital opened, the Southern Baptist Convention bought it and changed the name to “Baptist Hospital.”

moore 1925 nursesThe 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 unitBaptist Hospital’s motto: “Where the patient is the unit.”

baptist 69 fess elstonPerhaps Baptist Hospital’s most famous “unit” was a small one: On August 16, 1924 Mrs. Fess Elisha Parker gave birth to a bouncing baby 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.” . . .

baptist 43 now penn ave hos cdBut 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.

harris clinic 51 sanborn

Dr. Charles H. Harris had opened his clinic in 1912 at 1028 5th Avenue. In 1920 the state Methodist conference took over the clinic and enlarged it as “Harris Hospital.”

In 1922 the Methodist conference raised money to build a new hospital and revealed an architect’s sketch.

But the hospital was not built until 1930 at 1300 West Cannon Street. In 1937 that hospital became “Harris Memorial Methodist Hospital” with Dr. Harris as supervisor.

baptist 51 sanbornBy 1951, as this map shows, the mansions of 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).

Harris Clinic in 1940. (Photo from Fort Worth in Pictures, 1940.)

baptist okeefeThe 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.

richhart okeefe houseThe 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.

baptist 52 aerialPennsylvania 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).

baptist 62 doctors general vaccineIn 1957 the hospital that had begun its career in 1921 as “Protestant Hospital” was renamed yet again: “Doctors General Hospital.”

baptist 67 to reopen as fw genTen 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.

baptist googleIn 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.

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14 Responses to Hospitals After St. Joseph’s: Benefits, Bealls, and Baby Davy (Part 3)

  1. Amanda says:

    So is today’s Harris Tower the same as the 1930 Harris Methodist Hospital? I love its terra cotta details! And does the 1938 Art Deco Harris Clinic still stand?

    • hometown says:

      Amanda, yes, I believe the 1930 X-shaped building is now called “Harris Tower.” The little clinic building is gone.

  2. Tina L Rodriguez says:

    looking for a brick from St Joes. My mother was the night supervisor there in the late 60’s

    • hometown says:

      Tina, I have no idea how you’d find one after all this time. Too bad the demolition team didn’t set aside a small stack of bricks for just that purpose.

  3. Donna Hill says:

    Are there any pictures of Ft. Worth Children’s hospital?

    Thank you,
    Donna Hill

    • hometown says:

      Donna, I have seen no photos but have e-mailed you a newspaper clip about the opening of the new building in 1961.

  4. Wes Thompson says:

    It’s sad that those beautiful houses were torn down. As happens today, in the name of progress. We have lost so much history, and so many examples of spectacular architecture. I live in Cresson and we are going to see the same thing here, in this for now, tiny town. We’ve already lost more than one beautiful old house because no one is willing to spend the money that it takes to pull it back from the grave. The pictures and history that you post are fantastic. Please continue to do this.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Wes. If Cresson isn’t immune to “parking lot progress,” we all might as well give up and go home. I have lived in rural Johnson and Hood counties and always enjoying coming back “home” to Fort Worth through Cresson.

  5. earl belcher says:

    Puny brains tear down stately old mansion. I can hear the clatter now . . . “But we must destroy. We must make the fast buck. Buy up that old ranchland. The great unwashed don’t need food, let them eat cake.”

  6. AR says:

    I was born in Harris as well, and was at Fort Worth Children’s in 1960. I remember standing in line to get the sugar cube polio vaccine when I was 2 or 3. I love the old photo’s and maps. Over on the page about Lemuel Edwards, it is amazing how many names you can recognize on the plat of land owners, and the hatching lines where Camp Bowie and Vickery will be built, what a treasure! I am having so much fun reading your blog!

  7. AR says:

    I love the history of old Fort Worth! I was looking for info on Dr. Charles Harris and Harrisdale Farms when I found your blog. The search started because I was curious about a stone marker at Las Vegas Trail and Cortez in memory of Prince Domino Return, a champion bull owned by Dr. Harris. It was very interesting reading about how the hospital district came to be, thanks!

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