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Fort Worth Flashback: First local hospital was built for railroaders

Posted Dec. 7, 2012

St Joseph

St. Joseph Hospital, the first hospital in Fort Worth, was founded on May 29, 1883, by J.M. Eddy of the Gould railroad system. The hospital, then called the Missouri Pacific Hospital, was built for railroad workers.

Eddy offered $75,000 to start the hospital if the city would provide land for it. Citizens raised the $4,000 needed to purchase a site, and the original building was constructed.

In early 1885, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of San Antonio were invited to take charge of nursing. Only a few months after the sisters arrived, on April 5, 1885, the hospital burned. The railroad rebuilt it and continued to operate it until they moved their patients to Sedalia, Mo., in 1889. They then sold the hospital to the sisters for $15,000.

The institution was renamed St. Joseph’s Infirmary and dedicated on May 12, 1889. In 1898 a new building, seen here, was completed, and in 1906 St. Joseph’s Training School for Nurses opened.

By 1993, St. Joseph had 475 beds, a general staff of 1,000 employees, and a medical staff of more than 625 doctors.

In 1994, Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. bought St. Joseph and closed it a year later. The property was sold in 1997 to a California company that operated an Alzheimer’s center before bankruptcy. A few tenants used the property until 2004, when they were forced to leave because the building’s cooling system failed. The JPS Health Network is demolishing the St. Joseph buildings.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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