Remembering Old Main

Five floors, 80 beds, and 55 years of “service to the sick” – the original building of NC Baptist Hospital, affectionately named Old Main, was torn down piece by piece in 1978. It opened to the first patient on May 26, 1923.

North Carolina Baptist Hospital Old Main Building

As Egbert L. Davis Jr., former hospital trustee, stated on a day remembering Old Main: We’re not tearing down; we are renewing for greater service.”

Old Main was no longer feasible for office space and patient care and in its place, as part of the Medical Center’s Challenge Program, the six-story Focus Building was constructed. It became known as Watlington Hall.

But the first crash of the 5,000-pound wrecking ball into Old Main came on the morning of October 24th, 1978. The brick maker who made the molding bricks for Old Main was there. Mr. George Black was 100 years old in 1978 and had made the first brick for Old Main some 56 years ago. He and his brother Will started a brick company in Winston-Salem in 1889.

 Wrecking Ball Strikes Old MainGeorge Black at the Demolition of Old Main Old Main Almost Gone Remains of Old Main

 

Even though it was cold, many folks watched as the five floors carefully came down. The fifth floor served as a home for the student nurses before radiology moved in; the fourth floor was obstetrics with the third and second for infants and children/medicine respectively.

About a month later, people gathered in Davis Chapel to remember Old Main. Dr. Mahan Siler, director of the hospital’s Department of Pastoral Care, described the service as “a time to pause, to remember, to give thanks and to review our vision.” And he added: “Old Main, in a Biblical sense, is a holy place.”

Brick From Old Main Demolition

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