History Timeline

1865

Deaconess Hospital of Chicago, a 15-bed facility at the corner of Dearborn and Ontario Street, is established by Reverend William A. Passavant, Sr. and managed by the Institution of Protestant Deaconesses.

1871

Deaconess Hospital is destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. Fourteen years elapse before another hospital facility is reestablished.

1885

Passavant opens the Emergency Hospital on Superior Street near LaSalle for the treatment of accident cases from nearby factories, rail yards and downtown businesses.

1888

Through the efforts of Isaac Newton Danforth, MD, and Methodist social activist Lucy Rider Meyer, Wesley Hospital opens in several rooms provided temporarily by the Chicago Training School for City, Home and Foreign Missions at Dearborn and Ohio Streets.

1890

Wesley Hospital agrees to move to the near South Side on Northwestern University property and to select its staff from the medical school faculty.

1895

The Emergency Hospital is renamed Passavant Memorial Hospital in memory of its founder and reorganized as a general hospital.

1901

Passavant and Wesley complete building expansion and renovation projects, bringing capacity to 65 and 181 beds, respectively.

1904

The Passavant Memorial Auxiliary is incorporated as a lay organization to raise funds and assist with hospital affairs.

1905

Management of Wesley Hospital is transferred from the Methodist Episcopal Deaconess Society to a board comprised of business and civic leaders and representatives of Northwestern University.

1914

Wesley Hospital is renamed Wesley Memorial Hospital in honor of a $1 million gift from James Deering in memory of his family.

1917

Wesley and Passavant doctors and nurses join the war effort, many serving in France with Northwestern University’s Base Hospital #12.

1924

Wesley Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University sign a new affiliation agreement, but plans are stalled for a hospital to be built on the North Side campus.

1925

Passavant affiliates with Northwestern University, suspends hospital operations and begins fundraising for a new facility.

1929

Passavant Memorial’s elegant 325-bed hospital opens at 303 East Superior Street across from Northwestern University Medical School. 

1937

Trustee and Inland Steel founder George Herbert Jones donates $1 million for construction of a new high-rise Wesley Memorial Hospital.

1941

The new Wesley, known as Chicago’s “Cathedral of Healing,” opens at 250 East Superior Street.

1942

Doctors, nurses and staff from Passavant and Wesley are called to military duty. Wesley adds doctors and nursing students from the former Washington Boulevard Hospital to its staff and turns over two floors to U.S. Navy personnel. 

1945

Post-war research at Passavant and Wesley include clinical studies in the diagnosis and treatment of placental cancers, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and the uses for penicillin. Advances in hand and tendon surgery, ophthalmic disease, orthopedics and heart surgery are pioneered as well.

1948

Wesley affiliates with the Chicago Maternity Center. In addition to providing obstetric experience for housestaff, CMC patients requiring hospitalization are treated free of charge at Wesley.   

1949

The inaugural Passavant Cotillion and Christmas Ball, Chicago’s first formal debutante fundraising event, is held at the Conrad Stevens Hotel.

1954

Chicago Memorial Hospital’s board, endowment fund and medical staff merge with Wesley and the addition is reflected in the hospital being renamed Chicago Wesley Memorial Hospital.

1958

Passavant’s East Pavilion is completed, increasing capacity to 350 inpatient beds.

1959

Wesley’s Ruth Jones Allison Pavilion opens, adding additional patient beds, lab facilities and private physician offices.

1962

Passavant’s clinical research center is established with the support of the National Institutes of Health.

1966

The McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University is formed. Member institutions Passavant and Wesley begin investigating cooperative efforts in shared services and clinical programs.

1968

Planning and fundraising begin for a joint women’s hospital to be staffed and administered by the member institutions of the McGaw Medical Center.

1971

Passavant and Wesley medical staffs exchange admitting privileges as a prelude to consolidation.

1972

On September 1st, Passavant and Wesley consolidate under the name Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The 1,000 bed hospital is the largest private non-profit healthcare institution in the Midwest.

1974   

Northwestern Memorial is designated a State Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Center.

1975

Prentice Women’s Hospital and Northwestern University’s Institute of Psychiatry are formally merged into Northwestern Memorial Hospital. A joint facility for the two new campus additions opens at 333 East Superior Street.

1979

Olson Critical Care Pavilion opens, centralizing emergency and surgical services, intensive care and diagnostic radiology facilities as well as Northwestern University’s Dental School and Cancer Center.

1987

Northwestern Memorial is named one of the top hospitals in the U.S. in the book Best Hospitals in America.

1988

Physicians on staff at Northwestern Memorial and the Feinberg School of Medicine participate in the largest international epidemiological study of AIDS.

1994

A National Institutes of Health grant establishes Northwestern Memorial as one of five nationally-designated vascular centers and the Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center opens at Prentice.

1996   

The first islet cell transplantation in Illinois is performed at Northwestern Memorial.

1997   

NMH surgeons perform the nation’s first minimally invasive transmyocardial laser revascularization and the Midwest’s first successful minimally invasive kidney transplant.

1999

Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s new $580 million medical center opens on May 1st.

2000

Northwestern Memorial receives national recognition from Working Mother magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.” 

2001

The National Research Corporation honors Northwestern Memorial with its Consumer Choice Award as Chicago’s “most preferred” hospital.

2004   

Eight of Northwestern Memorial’s clinical specialties are ranked among the nation’s best in U.S. News and World Report’s annual list of “America’s Best Hospitals.” 

2005

The Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute is established at Northwestern Memorial with a $10 million gift from Neil G. Bluhm and family.

2006

Northwestern Memorial Hospital receives Magnet designation, the gold standard for nursing excellence, from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

2007

Longtime benefactors and community philanthropists Suzanne S. and Wesley M. Dixon pledge $20 million to support emerging clinical translational research initiatives.

The new Prentice Women’s Hospital opens at 250 East Superior Street on October 20.

2009

The William Wirtz family donates nearly $20 million to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for cancer research.

Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Lake Forest Hospital announce an affiliation agreement to enhance services and access to care as part of its planning for a preeminent academic medical center for Chicago, Lake County and surrounding regions.

2010

Northwestern Memorial finalizes the affiliation with Lake Forest Hospital, and becomes known as Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.

If you have a question regarding Northwestern Memorial’s history, please contact us at archives@nmh.org.