Baptist Memorial Hospital
Designed by Coston, Frankfurt & Short
3300 NW Expressway
In 1951, the Baptist Convention first aired the idea of establishing a much-needed hospital in OKC outside of the downtown core, but they were so busy funding and building rural hospitals throughout the state that the idea was tabled. A few years later, the Shepherd sisters got the ball rolling when they donated a 10-acre tract of their Land Run-era homestead at the intersection of NW 30th and Villa in honor of their recently deceased brother, Clyde. As planning began, however, all kinds of zoning issues sprouted up about building a busy hospital on a mere 10 acres in a heavily residential area, so the site was eventually rejected as a possibility. (The Copperfield apartment complex was later built where the hospital would have been.)
Real estate developer, Ben Wileman then offered up 25 acres between NW 41st and NW 46th just east of Old Route 66 (now I-44), but, as with the Shepherd tract, planners deemed the site too small for the modern hospital complex they hoped to build. (This area, along what is now N. Indiana and NW 42nd, later became a housing development).
As it was becoming evident that these sites weren’t feasible, developers J. Leroy Smith and James B. Battle, Jr., came forward with the offer of a 60-acre plot of farmland at the then-rural intersection of NW Expressway and Independence. The developers offered to sell part of the land and donate the rest to the Baptist Convention and everyone agreed that this, the highest spot in NW OKC, would be the perfect location for the $4.5 million, 200-bed hospital and future medical complex.
Plans for the eventual complex included the hospital, an elderly living center, a nursing school and dormitories, a Baptist church, and office space for doctors wanting to be close to the hospital.
Because there was such a great need for beds, the hospital would be the first, and most important, of the complex buildings to be completed. Local firm, Coston-Frankfurt & Short was hired to design the new, state-of-the-art hospital, and construction began in 1957. Here’s a 1958 photo of the Y-shaped hospital mid-way through construction:
Completed in 1959, the seven-story building boasted a red brick, limestone, and pre-cast concrete facade and featured glass walls that took advantage of the dramatic views of Hefner Lake in one direction and the rest of the city in the other. Inside, ultra-modern furniture in the large, airy patient rooms made them seem like resort suites, especially when so many patients were used to crowded, dormitory-style rooms in older facilities.
The thoroughly modern, 167,000-square-foot Baptist Memorial Hospital opened its doors on Easter Sunday, 1959, and it has been a busy place ever since. While few of the other proposed complex buildings (nursing school and dormitories, church, etc.) materialized, the 60-acre tract did fill in with doctors’ offices, specialized centers (e.g., burn and trauma), and a current hospital capacity of over 500 beds.
In 1995, Baptist Healthcare merged with Integris to form the largest complex of hospitals and medical services in the state.