Hospitals are often over-looked landmarks in a city’s history. For many people, though, hospitals are the backdrop of treasured first moments with children or last moments with parents. It can be a little sad to see a hospital close or, in the case of St. Paul Hospital in Dallas, demolished.
The original hospital building on Bryan Street, part of St. Paul’s Sanitarium, opened its doors on June 15, 1898, providing 110 beds to the Dallas community. The hospital was served by nurses of the Roman Catholic Order. In the decades following, a school of nursing and a school of medical technology were established. By 1963, 6 new buildings had been erected under the St. Paul name:
- An Annex building (1916) brought the bed capacity to 300.
- The School of Nursing building was finished in 1922.
- A five-story clinic building opened in 1938.
- “Mary’s Manor” (a dormitory for Nursing students) came to be in 1947.
- The Dallas Building brought the bed capacity to 395 in 1954.
- A 484-bed hospital in Southwestern Medical Center admitted its first patients in 1963.
St. Paul led the community in selflessness and innovation. Nurses risked their own lives when volunteering during the influenza outbreak of 1918, and they did the same again in 1951 when a five-alarm fire broke out at the hospital. Staff saved over 250 people without a single serious injury. In 1954, St. Paul was the first hospital in Dallas to allow African American doctors to serve at their institution. This was followed by desegregation in 1959.
Five years after the new hospital opened in the Southwestern Medical Center, the original hospital on Bryan Street was demolished. The photograph shown, part of the UT Southwestern digital archives, shows the building’s demolition.
For over fifty years, the hospital in Southwestern Medical Center, near the intersection of Harry Hines and Inwood, provided Dallas with superb care. In 1985, it became the first hospital in the city to perform a heart transplant.
On November 20, 2015, St. Paul Medical Center was demolished. William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital will take its place in serving the Dallas area with modern and innovative healthcare. The hospital is 12 floors and offers 460 beds.