Morris Memorial Hospital for Crippled Children
The Morris Memorial Hospital for Crippled Children is a historic medical center in Milton, West Virginia. The facility was built in phases from 1936 to 1941 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for children stricken with polio. It is being renovated into a resort.
The vision for a hospital for disabled children in western West Virginia came to local farmer Walter T. Morris as his great-nephew, John Morris, suffered from osteomyelitis. 1 After John Morris received treatment from Dr. Shade Jones, director of the Huntington Orthopedic Hospital, Walter Morris deeded his farm on the outskirts of Milton in 1930 so that a facility for the treatment and care of disabled children could be built. 3 The Huntington Orthopedic Hospital formed the Morris Memorial Hospital for Crippled Children and used Morris’ house as the main hospital, although it quickly outgrew the small quarters. 1
The hospital grounds were deeded to the town of Milton so that the hospital could quality for construction funding by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) on August 27, 1935. 1 Milton’s mayor, Albert Field, applied for and received WPA assistance. (The city then leased the property to the hospital on September 29, 1936. 1 4) Frampton & Bowers of Huntington, who had earlier designed by the Huntington Orthopedic Hospital, was selected as the architectural firm for the new hospital. 1
On July 5, 1936, a local Masonic fraternity led by Grand Master Wilson U.S. White laid the cornerstone for the future hospital, and construction began shortly thereafter on the main two-story administration building. 2 4 Work on the “Y”-shaped wings did not begin until 1937, followed by the erection of the boiler house and incinerator in 1938 and 1940. 1
The completed Morris Memorial Hospital, crafted with a cut limestone exterior, consisted of a central two-story section with a domed and louvered cupola and a two-story portico, and 1½-story “Y”-shaped wings. 1 Initially, the wings featured narrow metal casement doors leading from an exterior concrete terrace to a patient’s room. The hospital included five wards—two for females, two for males and one that served as an isolation ward. Additionally, there were 32 private rooms. Two additional wards were considered but never constructed.
The east wing included two gable wings that housed the therapy room with weights and a whirlpool, and a large room with two brine pools and a spring-fed pool, along with an x-ray department, operating rooms, and a laboratory. 1 A “T”-shaped wing from the east side featured a two-room school and a 2,000 volume library.
Morris Memorial Hospital was largely self-sufficient. 1 In addition to the hospital, the property featured a large dairy barn that housed up to 30 milk cows, 85 acres for pasture, and a 25-acre orchard and garden. Surplus items that were raised were sold for income. 5
Closure and Reuse
Morris Memorial Hospital served a number of patients that suffered from polio but patient numbers dramatically declined after a vaccine was developed in 1955. 6 It closed as a children’s hospital in 1960 after treating nearly 10,000 patients. In 1961, the city of Milton, which had owned by the site, leased the property to John and Rose Greene who reused the site as the Morris Memorial Nursing Home. 1
Citing low patient numbers, high energy costs, and deferred maintenance, the Morris Memorial Nursing Home closed in February 2009. 7
The city of Milton announced that they were partnering with developer Jeff Hoops to rehabilitate the former nursing home into the Grand Patrician Resort & Spa, a 100-room hotel with extended-stay suites. 8 Amenities would include an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a grand ballroom and conference center, a 250-seat wedding chapel, gymnasium, medical clinic, and physical rehabilitation center, restaurant, par-three nine-hole golf course, stables and horse trails, amphitheater, and soccer, baseball and softball fields. Townhomes would also be built upon some of the site’s 189 acres. The development plans for the site were later modified to include a 50-unit retirement home in the former hospital, the relocation of the planned hotel, swimming pool, fitness center, conference rooms, and an outdoor wedding chapel to another portion of the property, and the construction of 80 condominiums, 22 single-family home lots, and 26 duplex units. 9 10
Light demolition work and asbestos abatement began in May 2018, 9 and construction of the Grand Patrician Resort & Spa began in late October. 8