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The Beginnings of Baptist Hospital - 1920s

Buildings Completed:

  • Old Main (1923) 
  • Progressive Care (1928) - Originally built as the Blanche Barrus Nurses' Home

Old Main (1923)


Old Main was the original Baptist Hospital building. The five story, 80 bed facility was officially dedicated on May 28, 1923. On October 24, 1978 the building was demolished to make room for Watlington Hall. In 1920 the Baptist State Convention appointed a committee to select a site for the hospital. The four largest cities in North Carolina were possible options: Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Raleigh. The winning site was of course Winston-Salem. Construction began in 1921.

For a history of NCBH and the School of Nursing, read Ms. Heinzerling's 1960 manuscript.

Although this photograph has "30" in the upper right corner, this picture most likely is not from 1930. Rather, this photograph is probably from around 1923 when the building was completed, as there are no grown trees or bushes in the front.


The site the Baptist State Convention building committee chose was an 11.2 acre, undeveloped piece of land in the Ardmore section of Winston-Salem. The land was heavily wooded with a small brook. It has been written that the tract of land was known as the "wilds of Ardmore." Ardmore as a whole was not fully developed at this time. Only two houses faced the hospital, and there were two paved roads: Hawthorne and Queen Street.

This is another photograph of Old Main. Here small trees and bushes are apparent, so it must be later than the previous picture but earlier than 1941, as the medical school building is not visible.



When the hospital first opened, the first floor was made up of offices, a sitting room, x-ray department, nurses' dining room, switch-board and kitchens. The Director of Nurses also lived on the first floor in her own suite. During the first year of operation, the hospital only used two floors for patients, the third and fourth floors. The third floor was for obstetrical patients while the fourth floor was for medicine and surgery for adults and children. The fifth floor was used as living facilities for the nurses of the Nursing School. During the first week of operation, twenty five patients were admitted to the new hospital.

Another photograph of Old Main with its original entrance and no medical school building to be seen. Once again, the small trees and bushes lead one to believe the date is sometime after 1923 but before 1941. One source lists the date as 1928.


In 1978 the demolition of Old Main began, much to the reluctance of Medical Center staff. It was necessary to tear down the historic building because it was not fire-proof, thus making it unusable for patient care, and renovating it for office space was not economically feasible.

A funeral of sorts was held for the building on October 11,1978 before demolition began. Many people involved in the Medical Center's growth spoke about Old Main during a memorial service for the building.

This photograph has "1923" labeled in the lower left corner, but this too is unlikely the photograph's date as there are mature trees and bushes around the building. The photograph was taken by Dr. W.H. Sprunt, an employee at the hospital.


In 1948 the hospital underwent some construction that changed Old Main's entrance.



This undated photograph shows Old Main's new entrance (1948) as well as the first medical school building (right).


Progressive Care Building (Blanche Barrus Nurses' Home) 1928


What is now known as the Progressive Care Building, was once the Blanche Barrus Nurses' Home. Completed in 1928, makes Progressive Care the oldest standing building at the Medical Center. This facility is easily noticeable on the corner of Hawthorne Road and Medical Center Boulevard.


North Carolina Baptist Hospital was home to a Nursing School, and it was customary for the students to live in the hospital. Soon enough, the nursing program outgrew its residences on the fifth floor of the hospital making the construction of a new home necessary.

The home was dedicated to Blanche Barrus, the first paid, full-time secretary of the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU). Blanche Barrus traveled the state spreading her missionary goals, and then worked on obtaining her medical degree in order to become a medical missionary. Just before completing her internship, Blanche Barrus became ill and died.

Two nursing students shared each bedroom with a full bathroom between every two rooms. There was even a classroom in the basement. In 1936 an additional eighteen bedrooms were built as well as a front porch.

The nurse in the right photograph is Lucille Cain Hartman, class of 1932.


In 1959 renovations began on the Nurses' home to convert it to a progressive care center. The nurses moved into the Twin Castles Apartments, adjacent to the hospital.

The Progressive Care Center opened in 1961 and provided seventy-nine hotel type patient rooms, bringing the hospital's bed count to almost 500. The center also had a beauty shop, barber, cafeteria, snack bar, and recreation room.

Such an idea was unique and received national attention. The PCC primarily served out of town patients who did not need close nursing supervision, thus reducing the costs of the patient's stay. In 1974 a new twenty-six bed psychiatric inpatient department opened on the third floor.

This photograph was not dated, however it is sometime after the 1961 opening of the PCC. The exterior of building today has not changed much since it was built in 1928. Currently the PC Building is home to several departments such as facility services and the life support education program.


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