Egleston History

The Henrietta Egleston Memorial Hospital for Children formally opened Oct. 16, 1928. However, plans for the hospital had been in the works for many years. In 1916, Thomas R. Egleston Jr., a prominent insurance agent, died, leaving $100,000 in his will to buy land and construct a children’s hospital. He wished for the hospital to be built in honor of his mother, Henrietta Egleston, who passed away in 1912 and who had tragically lost four of her five young children to childhood diseases.

A number of factors delayed the construction of the original hospital building. With World War I and inflation cited as major concerns, the appointed trustees of the hospital decided to invest Thomas Egleston’s financial contribution and wait for a better time to begin construction. In 1919, the Calvin W. Hunnicutt house on Spring Street NW, opposite what is today called Baltimore Place, was purchased for the hospital. However, the property was sold in 1923 because increasing traffic had made the location too loud for the recuperating patients needing rest.

Finally, in 1926, another property was purchased – a 15-acre patch of land located on what was then Forrest Road and Fortune Street, which is now the intersection of Ralph McGill Boulevard and Wabash Avenue. Within two years, Henrietta Egleston Memorial Hospital for Children opened with 50 beds. An agreement of operation was signed Sept. 21, 1956 between Egleston and Emory University. Emory agreed to provide a five-acre plot of land on its campus at the corner of Uppergate Drive and Clifton Road for the construction of a new Egleston hospital. Construction began in early 1957 and the new facility opened April 20, 1959, with a 100-bed capacity.

This hospital saw further expansions through the years, including the opening of the George and Irene Woodruff Pavilion Oct. 14, 1981 and the addition of 70 beds in 1993. The 1990s saw major growth with the Center for Child Advocacy in 1992, the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center in 1995 and the Sibley Heart Center in 1997. In 1998, Egleston merged with the Scottish Rite Medical Center to form Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Egleston expanded its facilities again in 2004.

Hughes Spalding History

Hughes Spalding Pavilion opened July 7, 1952, but plans for the hospital began in the late 1940s. As World War II ended, it became apparent that African-Americans in Atlanta did not have sufficient healthcare options. In comparison to white Atlanta residents, African-Americans had a higher mortality rate, yet had limited access to medical professionals and healthcare facilities. Prominent Atlanta businessman and attorney Hughes Spalding recognized the need for a hospital to serve African-American patients and led a movement to change these inadequacies.

Spalding’s desire to help was initially sparked in 1946 when Margaret Mitchell, famed author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel Gone with the Wind, wrote to him. She expressed her concern about the African-American healthcare system in Atlanta after encountering its inadequacies firsthand. As her long-time African-American laundress neared the final days of her life after a battle with cancer, Mitchell was unable to find an adequate hospital facility for her, and this deeply concerned Mitchell. Also included in her letter was a donation to address this problem and help fund a better medical facility for African-Americans. Spalding was so inspired by Mitchell’s letter and donation that he later suggested the hospital be named in her honor. From Mitchell’s inspiration, Spalding looked to other leaders in Atlanta to help fund the hospital. His efforts were greatly appreciated by Atlanta community leaders, who agreed the hospital should be named in his honor.

In May 1947, the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, led by Hughes Spalding, authorized construction to begin on the hospital. Emory University donated three acres of land across from Grady Hospital in downtown Atlanta for the new facility, which would be operated through the Grady Health System. The hospital continues to operate at this original location today. When it finally opened in 1952, the Hughes Spalding Pavilion held more than 130 beds and provided medical care for African-American adults and children. Another primary goal for the hospital was to provide medical training for African-Americans in the workforce.

In 1983, Hughes Spalding Pavilion expanded its facilities. Along with this expansion, the hospital began to specialize in pediatric care. The hospital was briefly closed from 1989 to 1991, but reopened in 1992 as Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital. In 2004, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Grady Health System jointly announced plans for Children’s to provide pediatric services at Hughes Spalding. These plans became a reality in 2006 when Children’s began managing the hospital. In 2010, a new building for the hospital was opened at the same location, which provided expanded facilities, updated equipment, a primary care center, a sickle cell clinic and an asthma clinic.

Scottish Rite History

Inspired by the work of Michael Hoke, M.D., Mrs. William C. “Bertie” Wardlaw led the two-year effort to open a free hospital for children in the early part of the 20th century. With the help of Mr. Forrest Adair and the Scottish Rite Masons, Scottish Rite Convalescent Home for Crippled Children opened Sept. 15, 1915. Previously, Dr. Hoke had been providing free orthopaedic care for children at the Wesley Memorial Hospital on Auburn Avenue and Courtland Street. However, only two beds were available for patients, and space was limited.

When the hospital was finally established in 1915, the two rented bungalows at 321 W. Hill Street in Decatur, Ga., housed 20 beds for children needing recovery after receiving orthopaedic care. The hospital would go on to fill a significant role for children and within four years, an additional 30 beds were added to accommodate the growing need in the community. The 50-bed orthopaedic surgical facility was renamed Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children to recognize its expanding medical services. While the building no longer operates as a children’s hospital, the original property is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

As Atlanta’s population expanded toward the north of the city, the hospital’s location in Decatur became less accessible. By 1969, the original Scottish Rite building had been in operation for 50 years, and the facilities were in need of expansion and updates. Wood W. Lovell, M.D., the hospital’s third medical director, led an expansion effort to make Scottish Rite a full-fledged medical center. The hospital’s new expansion and updated name, Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, launched in July 1976 at its current location in north Atlanta. The new facility held 50 beds as well as a four-bed Intensive Care Unit. In 1977, the 200-seat amphitheater Wood W. Lovell, M.D., Education Center was added for medical teaching.

Further expansion occurred in 1983 with the addition of 96 beds and a clinical outpatient building. On Sept. 15, 1989, the hospital was renamed again to the Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Hospital for Children in honor of the couple who originally donated the land in north Atlanta, while the holding company became the Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center. The 1990s brought more additions to Scottish Rite, including the Callaway Acute Care Center in 1991 and the Scottish Rite Medical Center Asthma Education Center in 1994. In 1998, Scottish Rite and Henrietta Egleston Memorial Hospital merged to form Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Facilities at Scottish Rite were further expanded in 2004.