Haywood County Hospital
The Haywood County Hospital in Waynesville, North Carolina, was the first county owned and funded hospital in the state and the first hospital to receive a grant from the Duke Endowment. The building, built in 1927 with major additions in 1952 and 1958, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It served as a staple of, and exemplar of trends in, rural North Carolina health care for over 50 years. The hospital itself moved to what is now the Haywood Regional Medical Center facility in Clyde, North Carolina, in 1978. The building has been the home of the Haywood County Schools Central Office since 1981, but plans are in progress for a low-income senior housing project.
Backstory and Context
In 1916, Haywood County had seven doctors but no hospitals. The next year, a group of private citizens and donors established the Waynesville Hospital, Inc., which opened in a former hotel just in time for a local typhoid outbreak as well as the flu pandemic the following year. It remained in private hands until 1922, when it failed financially and was taken over by the county. Serious plans for a new building began in 1926, and a $100,000 bond referendum was passed by county citizens. Hospital construction was further funded by a $10,000 Duke Endowment grant (the first of its kind) and $2,200 in private donations, as well as $6,500 in county money. Architect Louis H. Asbury, Sr. was selected to design the building. The three-story Classical Revival structure was built in 1927 and opened on January 1st, 1928. The 45-bed hospital was state of the art for its time and similar to many hospitals of the era: classically impressive in design but constructed to be well-lit and ventilated (with many windows), easily cleaned (using materials such as tile and terrazzo), and fireproof. Over its first decade, “Haywood County Hospital staff treated 13,816 patients, 10,410 of whom were admitted for overnight stays, and delivered 810 babies.”
Another Duke Endowment grant, for $6,000, paid for half of a Nurses’ Dormitory built in 1933 to house the women in training at the hospital. A stone retaining wall was also constructed in pieces in 1927, with Depression-era state and federal funding in 1933-35, and again sometime before 1968.
The hospital was running out of room as early as the 1930s, though its capacity had increased to 75 patients. World War II put it in a near-crisis state due to missing staff. After the war, several state and federal programs (such as the Hill-Burton Act, also known as the Hospital Survey and Construction Act) allotted grant money and loans for hospital improvement programs. The Haywood County Hospital was one of 97 North Carolina institutions that received $47 million in funding under these programs. Another bond referendum was passed in 1951, this one for $225,000, to raise grant-matching funds. A 5-story addition was designed in the Modernist style – like most hospitals of the time - by Lindsey M. Gudger. (The lower two stories were below the first story of the 1927 building due to ground elevation changes.) This building was designed to be simple, efficient, and inexpensive, while remaining practical, hygienic, and well-lit and ventilated. Newer construction methods allowed larger windows and open spaces within the building. This addition was built perpendicular to and centered on the 1927 building; its completion in 1952 resulted in a total hospital capacity of 100 beds. Another addition, designed by Foy & Lee Associates and completed in 1958, was built onto the end of the hospital’s new rear wing and left the complex with a total of 148 rooms. In 1966, additions were built onto the east and west wings of the 1927 building, including stair towers and, on the west wing, an ambulance garage.
The hospital moved to a new facility in Clyde, North Carolina, in 1979, and became the Haywood Regional Medical Center in 1997. This hospital has struggled with internal conflicts and financial struggles (once even temporarily losing its Medicare and Medicaid certifications), but has been doing well under the ownership of Duke LifePoint Healthcare, which bought the struggling facility in 2014.
As for the original building, it has been home to the Haywood County Schools Central Office since 1981, as well as to the county Department of Social Services for a short time. The main building and grounds – but not the Nurses’ Dormitory, which is owned by the Smoky Mountain Center – were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. The county has worked with two different developers over a nine-year period in attempts to sell the building and convert it into low-income senior housing, but, until 2019, the projects were denied the historic property and low-income housing tax credits they needed to get off the ground. As of August 2019, Landmark Properties, Inc. has been approved for the tax credits and bought the property; it is planning to turn the structure into housing upon the completion of Haywood County Schools’ lease at the end of 2020.
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Warren LeMay, Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/warrenlemay/46715374811/in/photostream/)
Warren LeMay, Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/warrenlemay/45800091565/in/photostream/)
Warren LeMay, Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/warrenlemay/39750408443/in/photostream/)