History Timeline


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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. 


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.


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.   


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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.” 


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


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


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.


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.


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.