Memphis Hospitals and Medical Centers

         ... In Vintage Postcards and Photos


America's first hospitals were only open to travelers and transients - by law.  Citizens who got sick were treated in their homes.  In 1829, the first public hospital in Memphis was established.  Like others of the period, It was meant for river travelers, but was replaced with a facility that, after being used as a military hospital during the Civil War, became the Memphis City Hospital.  The yellow fever epidemic of 1878 almost wiped Memphis off the map - with a death total higher than either the attack on Pearl Harbor or 9/11.  By 1920, perhaps because of all those years of living with yellow fever, Memphis had one of the largest medical complexes in America.  The University of Tennessee Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy moved to Memphis and merged with the Memphis Hospital Medical College and College of Physicians and Surgeons.  There were now the Baptist Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph's and Methodist Hospitals, as well as the Memphis General.


The John Gaston Hospital would follow in 1936.  In addition, there were the Collin's Chapel Hospital and Gailor Clinic for African Americans.  Memphis rose to the front ranks in the medical field - a position it holds to this day. 

 Click on small photos to enlarge them.


CITY HOSPITAL  The original Memphis General Hospital opening in 1829, was on Union Avenue,  and was owned by the State of Tennessee.   During the Civil War, it became a military hospital.  Afterwards, Tennessee gave ownership of the building to the city of Memphis and the hospital was re-named "City Hospital".  In 1898 the "City Hospital" pictured in the postcards was built on Madison Avenue and the old hospital building was demolished.  The grounds of that old building are now the site of Forrest Park. 



City Hospital City Hospital 1906 City Hospital City Hospital 1908


City Hospital

City Hospital 1906


          Class of 1901


BAPTIST MEMORIAL HOSPITAL  The Baptist Memorial Hospital's origins date back to 1912 when the Southern Baptist Conventions of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas jointly opened Baptist Memorial Hospital in the Madison Avenue Memphis Medical Center.  On November 17, 2000, Baptist transferred its last 14 patients to other facilities, marking the closing of the 88 year old hospital.  The buildings were then demolished.   The current Baptist Memorial Hospital is a 706 bed medical facility located on Walnut Grove Road.  It was built in 1979 and is the flagship of Baptist Memorial Healthcare.  The former Madison Avenue Medical Campus has been redeveloped by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Original Baptist 1912

Baptist 1917 Tri-State Baptist 1917

            Tri-State Baptist 1918


Baptist on Union 1920 Union-8th 1929 Baptist 1920 Baptist  1923

Baptist 1930s Aerial 1949 Implosion Bowl

Anniversary Plate


ST. JOSEPH HOSPITAL  Saint Joseph Hospital was a Catholic-operated hospital at 220 Overton Avenue.  It was here that Martin Luther King Jr. was pronounced dead April 4, 1968.  The hospital was erected and operated by the Sisters of St. Francis in 1885.  It would eventually grow into a 1212 bed Medical Center.  In 1997 the hospital began a merger with Baptist Memorial Health Care.  The property and buildings were sold to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  All of them but one were subsequently demolished to make room for St. Jude's expansion.  The St. Joseph-Baptist merger was completed in 1998 and St. Joseph's last patients were transferred to Baptist in November 2000.


St. Joseph 1889      St. Joseph 1889 St. Joseph 1906 St. Joseph Aerial View

St. Joseph 1912    St. Joseph 1912 St. Joseph 1906 St. Joseph Float

St. Joseph room 1930s Sunporch 1930s Maternity Ward 1950s



Ambulance 1925

St. Joseph Chapel

St. Joseph - Vintage

Operating Rm 1925

Parlor 1914                    

METHODIST HOSPITAL  Founded in 1918 by John M. Sherard, the Methodist Hospital has grown into Methodist Healthcare - the third largest not-for-profit hospital in the nation.  In 2000 Modern Healthcare magazine ranked Methodist Health Care, Memphis, as one of the top integrated healthcare networks in the nation, and the Methodist Memphis Hospitals has been named the Best Hospital in Memphis by U. S. News and World Report.  The hospital was cited as best in 12 medical specialties:  cancer, diabetes/endocrinology, ear/nose/throat, gastroenterology, geriatrics, gynecology, heart and heart surgery, kidney disorders, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonary and urology.


Methodist site 1898      Methodist Opens 1921 Methodist Methodist


Methodist 1946 Methodist - Doctor's Bldg Pharmacy   Methodist New Wing

MEMPHIS MEDICAL SCHOOL  In 1911, five independent medical colleges located in Memphis joined together and formed the Memphis Medical School, soon becoming the University of Tennessee's College of Medicine.  Shortly thereafter, it becomes the largest in the U.S.


Medical College 1907    Medical College Medical College

    Medical College  PC 1911


1912 UT College of Medicine

UT School Medicine

1908 Graduates

UT Medical College


University of Tennessee Medical Centers

There are six graduate schools of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in downtown Memphis.  It is the oldest public medical school in Tennessee.  The college's primary focus is to provide practicing health professionals for the state of Tennessee.


UT - College of Medicine



JOHN GASTON HOSPITAL  Before he died in 1912, John Gaston told his friends that wanted his mansion converted into a public hospital.  That didn't happen until the death of his wife in 1929.  Then the mansion was deemed too small for a decent hospital and it was demolished and the property was converted into Gaston Park.  The bulk of Gaston's fortune, supplemented by funds from the Public Works Administration, was then used to build a brand new city hospital in the Madison Avenue Medical District.  The John Gaston Hospital opened in 1936 and remained one of the city's busiest hospitals until it was demolished in 1990 to make way for the growth of "The Med".


John Gaston 1936 John Gaston John Gaston 1947

Isolation Ward 1937       


John Gaston Nurse Class        Gaston Maternity Ward 1970 Gaston Residents Implosion 1990



KENNEDY VA HOSPITAL ... Built in  1943, Kennedy was a state-of-the-art medical facility and one of the best equipped hospitals in the nation.  The hospital treated all types of casualties but specialized in surgery, with an average of 30 operations a day.  There was a big center for the treatment of spinal cord injuries and the second largest neuropsychiatry service in the nation.  Kennedy was like a city within a city with it's own power station, fire department, housing for 2,000 personal, bowling alleys, movie theatre, recreation halls, etc.  Closed in 1967 ... now demolished.


VETERANS MEDICAL CENTER ... is a fully accredited 244 bed facility located at 1030 Jefferson Avenue.  More than 10,000 veterans receive primary care and mental health services here.  The center offers acute medical and surgical care as well as intermediate care.


MEMPHIS MARINE HOSPITAL ... located at 360 Metal Museum Drive, was once part of the federal health care system under President John Adams to "provide for the relief and maintenance of disabled seamen".  The hospital opened in 1884 and the existing structures date to 1936.  The sprawling hospital sits on about 6 acres high on a bluff directly across from DeSoto Park.  After decades of neglect the buildings have fallen into disrepair - but there's a hidden treasure here.  Two buildings from the 1880s remain and both are on the National Register of Historic Places.



Veterans Bureau 1921     Kennedy Veterans Hosp 1943 Aerial-Kennedy 1950 Kennedy Veterans 1926

Kennedy Ward B 1945    Tuberculosis Hospital on Rive Kennedy Christmas 1944 Veterans Hospital

Marine Hospital 1880s Marine Hospital Marine Hospital 1904 Marine Hospital

ST. JUDE HOSPITAL  St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is the leading pediatric treatment and research facility focused on Children's catastrophic diseases.  The institution was conceived and built by the late entertainer Danny Thomas in 1962 as a tribute to St. Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of impossible, hopeless, and difficult causes.


St. Jude St. Jude St. Jude Marathon St. Jude

LE BONHEUR CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL  848 Adams . Founded in 1952, the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital offers primary level 1 pediatric trauma care, as well as a nationally recognized pediatric brain tumor program.  It serves more than 130,000 patients each year.  It is ranked as one of the nation's "Best Children's Hospitals".


Ground Breaking   

Construction 1951 Opening 1951 Entrance 1952 Le Bonheur Westside



Child's Room              Le Bonheur 1978

CRIPPLED CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL  In 1917, ladies of the Calvary Episcopal Church went to Dr. Campbell, at the Campbell Clinic, to inquire about purchasing a wheelchair for a child.  Instead, Dr. Campbell encouraged them to establish a hospital.  Two years later the Crippled Children's Hospital opened and 35 patients were admitted the first year.  Throughout its sixty-three year existence, the hospital and school cared for many hundreds of children without any cost to their families.  Sold to Methodist Health Care in the 1970s.

Hospital      Commenoration Crippled Children's Float Playground at Hospital

ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL  Since 1974 St. Francis Hospital has been a leading Medical Center for Memphis.  The 515 bed facility was the first full-service hospital in East Memphis.  It was the first hospital to establish a Chest pain Emergency Center and the first in Memphis to establish a Stroke Emergency Center.




      St. Francis


Lynnhurst Lynnhurst Ad 1922  Lynnhurst Sanitarium 1911 1904 Ad 1905 Ad

Wallace Wallace Ad 1922 Wallace 1920 Croffords

1900 Ad


1900 Ad

James Sanatorium

James Sanatorium 1911

James Sanatorium 1910





Collins Chapel Connections Hospital  
Located at 416-18 Ashland Court.  Collins Chapel was a small, regional black hospital, which opened in 1910, and had 75 beds.  The hospital had an operating room, a maternity ward, and a correctional ward.  Dr. W. S.. Martin became superintendent in 1920. 


Collins Chapel

1915 Letter



Mercy Hospital  .  Located at 729 Mississippi Av.  This was another of the small, regional black hospitals.


The Med  .  The Regional Medical Center (The Med) was chartered in 1829 and is the oldest hospital in Tennessee.   Funded by the Shelby County government, it is home to four centers of excellence - High-Risk Obstetrics, Newborn, Trauma, and Burn Centers.  It also serves as an educational and research resource for the University of Tennessee at Memphis.


Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat Hospital  .  Dr. Louis Levy built this hospital in 1926 at 1060 Madison Avenue.  It had one of the highest ratings in the country but was plagued by a shortage of funds.  It was purchased by the Methodist Hospital in 1943.  All patients were transferred to Methodist Hospital in 1966, and the building was sold to a private physician.


Gailor Memorial Psychiatric Hospital  .  Opened in 1943, Gailor Hospital  was an intensive, short-term facility for the mentally ill.


Gartly-Ramsay  . 696 Jackson Ave,  Originally constructed in 1859 as a private residence, the Gartly-Ramsay Hospital opened in 1909 as a private care facility.  From 1950-1972, it housed a psychiatric hospital.  William Faulkner was treated there a few times.  A Salvation Army facility now occupies the site.


Gartly-Ramsay 1926 Gartly Ramsay 1920 1920 1920 G-R 1940

West Tennessee TB Hospital  .  Built in 1948.  400 beds.  Owned and operated by the State of Tennessee, Memphis.


Willis C. Campbell .  Madison Avenue.  Opened 1920 and It developed into an internationally known center for orthopedic surgery, and continues to occupy its original building.  All hospital care patients have been transferred to Baptist Hospital in 1971.


Hospital for Cripled Adults  .  The only one of it's kind in the world, devoted solely to the care and treatment of physically handicapped adults who are financially unable to provide for themselves.  It officially opened in 1923.


Home for Incurables
 .  Founded by the King's Daughters and Sons of Tennessee, the home opened in 1908.  A new building was completed in 1912.  The institution provides  a home for persons afflicted with diseases pronounced incurable.





College of Dentistry 1902

Presbyterian Home Hospital


Mary Galloway -Aged Women

  Memphis Hospital Memorabilia ...


1881 Commencement     1900 Nurse 1921 First Nurse Class Memphis Medical Center

Baptist Sugar 1952

Baptist Stitch 1952

1927 Medical Assoc

Nurse Lab Class Veterans Hospital 1930

  St Joseph Mug

James Sanitarium 1890 Kennedy Matchbook Eye Ear Nose 1978

Medical Center 1950   




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