Located on the corner of Wake Forest Road and Glascock Street in Raleigh, Mary Elizabeth Hospital was designed by Dr. Harold Glascock and built in 1920. The doctors originally opened the hospital
in 1914 on the corner of Peace and Halifax before constructing and moving to the Wake Forest & Glascock location in 1920. Originally, the hospital received scrutiny from the Raleigh medical community because both doctors were osteopaths, which was not considered a legitimate medical profession by many MDs. The doctors went to medical school to help strengthen their reputations, but still struggled for years after.
Dr. Glascock was the main force behind Mary Elizabeth (named after the mothers of the two doctors and their wives). Glascock’s main goal was to bring humanity into hospitals, with a focus on the relationships fostered between doctor, nurse, and patient. Later in his practice, he began to adhere to traditional medical principles with an emphasis on new technologies. Mary Elizabeth was the home of many firsts, including the first hospital to hold a blood transfusion in North Carolina, and the area’s first modern obstetrical unit. The hospital continued to operate until 1978.
The building still exists on the corner, and is a Raleigh Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The continuation sheet of the National Register form has a wonderful history of the hospital and doctors that you can read here.
The building faces west set back off of Wake Forest Road with a landscaped front lawn and mature trees. The two-story, brick, hospital is a modified-“H”-type plan, a plan that was made popular by government funded hospitals and often adapted for community hospitals in the early part of the twentieth century. The Mary Elizabeth Hospital was built in the Colonial Revival style, but it has some Craftsman features, such as the exposed rafter tails, wide eaves, and hipped roof, which are echoed by the many Craftsman bungalows in the surrounding residential neighborhood. A large parking lot shared with the adjacent Medical Arts Building, accessible off Glascock Street and Lafayette Road, sits at the rear of the hospital building. The layout and design of Mary Elizabeth Hospital has many of the hallmarks of 1920s hospital design.
The hospital functioned as a successful medical center in Raleigh for many years until its closure in 1978. Mary Elizabeth Hospital is still remembered fondly by many Raleigh residents. Some recall that it was their birthplace; others know it as the site of baby reunion parties; and some think of it as a nursing training school alma mater. Mary Elizabeth Hospital has been credited by former Mary Elizabeth Hospital doctors as the site for the number of “firsts” that happened there. The first blood transfusion in North Carolina was given at Mary Elizabeth Hospital, the first pathological frozen section was handled there, the first doses of penicillin in Wake County were given there, the area’s first modern obstetrical unit was started at the hospital, and Mary Elizabeth Hospital had the first radium treatments in Raleigh.
In the mid- to late 1960s, the doctors were realizing that Mary Elizabeth Hospital was no longer the modern facility that it had once been. New and sophisticated technologies and medical advances demanded a larger building with better equipment and much more space. The doctors of Mary Elizabeth Hospital, always striving to give the best service to the surrounding community, decided that it as necessary to build a new hospital on a new site that would accommodate future expansion.
The hospital was sold in 1970 to Charter Medical of Macon, Georgia, and a year later, the wheels were set in motion to build a hospital that would accommodate 150 patient beds. Legal battles with Rex and WakeMed Hospitals, which tried to block Mary Elizabeth Hospital’s expansion plans, delayed the construction of the new hospital for six years. Charter Medical was unable to afford the delays, and after five years, Mary Elizabeth Hospital was sold to Hospital Corporation of America. Finally, the new hospital was built farther up on Wake Forest Road in 1978. On June 10, 1978 the doors to the new hospital officially opened, and Mary Elizabeth Hospital was officially closed.
The new hospital was named Raleigh Community Hospital to reflect the past and future community role of the hospital. Many of the doctors and staff members made the transition to Raleigh Community Hospital, which became Duke Raleigh Hospital in 1998.
When the hospital closed its doors in 1978, the United Way of Raleigh took up residence, using the old building as its local headquarters. The hospital building transitioned from medical facility to office space, but as one of the remaining small community hospitals in Raleigh and the surrounding area which served the medical needs of area citizens, Mary Elizabeth Hospital continues to be a community and historical landmark.
1100 Wake Forest Road
Raleigh, NC 27604
|Dr. Harold Glascock|
National Register of Historic Places