Old Deaconess Hospital

There’s not much left of the original facade of the old Deaconess Hospital on Oakland Avenue, slated for demolition if the sale of the property to the zoo proceeds.

There is still this nice nurses’ wing, I believe, that could be reused by the zoo. It looks like it’s in good shape, and has architectural merit.

My favorite part of the hospital is the row of three nurse statues that line the corridor that links the hospital with the west wing above.

The rest of the hospital site is definitely looking worse for wear. The glass box office building, to be saved for the zoo’s expansion, is still in good condition.

It’s a shame the building is being torn down, but I must say that I believe the zoo would be a good steward of the property. Forest Park lost many, many acres of land to Highway 40, and I see no reason why the park can’t spread south a little, into space that has been institutional for close to a century. Less surface parking would be nice, if the zoo could alter its plans for the site.

And the saving of the two iconic towers would be a welcome sign from the zoo as well.

Update: The hospital has been completely demolished.


  1. I will miss it a tad as well – I was borned there some years ago (as in "from when the postcard dates"…).I wouldn't imagine the towers could be saved, short of severing them from the old building and lifting off with a tremendous crane – prob bigga bucks. That said, they would make a cool pair of gate guards!

  2. I had been reluctant to think that demolishing this building complex would be a good thing, as I've always loved driving north on Hampton between Southwest and 44, seeing that building across the valley perched on top of that hill, keeping watch over the entire area. But you make a very good point about the Zoo being able to lay claim to the site as being a repayment to Forest Park which as lost so much space over the years. So I'm keen to agree with you.

  3. The protrusion on the front facade, that look like exposed elevator shafts, are 'bathroom pods' installed in the 1990's.

  4. What happens to the statues inside of the old Deaconess. The ones of the nurses in various uniforms/habits from over the years.

    • I am saddened to find out that this hospital was closed and already demolished.
      I have many nice memories as an extern from 1990 than later as an intern in Internal Medicine in 1994. It was a nice, friendly, homey hospital with really good staff.

  5. It’s a shame to see the hospital come down. My Mom went to Nursing school there in 1959 – 1960. In those days the student nurses were required to live on the property in the Nurses building and not allowed too much freedom. My Mom said they had a Nurse that was like a building Captain that made sure all the rules were followed, etc. I remember the only day we could visit was Sunday and my Dad would take me to see my Mother. I remember playing on the lawn out in front of the hospital. It seemed like that lawn was endless.
    My Mom also worked in the Delivery Room at Deaconess for many years which she said she really loved. She spent 53 years as an RN. And when I broke both of my arms at 13 years old, guess where I went!

    • Your Mom may have helped deliver ME! I was born there in 1966, and was there for two weeks, because I was small from being slightly premature. They wouldn’t let me go home til I weighed five pounds…

  6. When I was there for a tonsillectomy in 1947 (I was 7), I asked a nurse what the two towers were for.
    She told me that was where the angels slept during the day; at night they came down and sat by the bedside of sick children. Naturally, I believed her, but could never quite stay awake to see mine.
    Pretty neat story, and reassuring to a kid!

  7. I became a new resident of Dogtown at Deaconess
    on 19 September 1933. So now where will they put
    the bronze tablet commemorating that auspicious

  8. I went to nursing school at a Deaconess a Hospital school of nursing, graduated in 1982, worked there as a RN in the Newborn Nursery, gave birth to my soon there in 1988, had major surgery there
    So many great memories I have of my time spent there, I drove past a few weeks ago and it’s all demolished and gone, I just sat in my car and cried

  9. Very sad to see it go. My entire family of six was born there; a two hour drive from our farm in the Ozarks. Driving “into town” was a big deal back then. Forest Park seemed like such a magical place to me as a child.

  10. I graduated from the Deaconess Hospital Internal Medicine Residency Program in 1994. I have enjoyed a very successful practice over 22 years from training with some of the best physicians anywhere. My heart was broken to visit St. Louis and find the grand hospital in demolition. During the demolition I acquired bricks from the towers as a gift from the St. Louis Zoo. Those bricks were used as the keystone in the main entrance of my new state of the art medical office building in Frontenac, Kansas. My medical practice is now named Deaconess Healthcare, P.A. The spirit of Deaconess lives on!!

    • I also trained in Internal Medicine at Deaconess with Drs. Hill and Chambers. I
      was overjoyed to hear the hospital and residency programs shut down. Basically the Medicine Service was slave labor with little to no teaching. There were one to two full time teaching attendings to supervise an army of residents and none were
      professors at the two medical schools in town. The sole purpose of the residency was to provide cheap labor and enrich the hospital administration and attending physicians. Teaching rounds, Morning Report, hospital conferences were terrible. I left before Deaconess closed down and transferred to a university
      hospital program. The only saving grace was that in the end, the stream of money ended and Deaconess was demolished. Deaconess was not a good teaching hospital, and other than the rotations at St Louis City Hospital, this was a waste of time. The loss of St Louis City Hospital was tragic. The loss of Deaconess was overdue and righteous.

        • I remember the wonderful time I spent there as an intern. Even though sometimes it was hard and busy during calls but we learned a lot!
          I remember Dr. Hill, Dr. Chambers, Dr. McCann and many great physicians / teachers; also all the kind nurses, medical office staff, dietitians, volunteers, kitchen staff etc.
          I remember, the meals were free for interns and residents.
          They took care of us well!

  11. My wife was born there in 1947. She is an angel. Kinda sad to see it being torn down
    Our church minister, Dr. Herbert Wintermeyer was on its board for years. Good old memories of a dear old city!

  12. My mother worked at Deaconess Hospital for 16 years and she graduated from nursing school as well from Deaconess College of Nursing. I also attended Deaconess Day Camp as a child and made some really good friends there who I will never forget.

  13. Enjoyed reading the reviews & looking at the pics. I loved Deaconess worked their 1982 to 1994. Started as LPN on 4 North covered medicine. Also worked in Ambulatory Care, SurgiCenter, MediCenter & Family Medicine. Attended School of nursing ADN program. The first LPN to RN class. Moved from Alton, IL to Dogtown Oakland Ave walked to work. Lots of wonderful people missed from Deaco!!

  14. I graduated from Deaconess School of Nursing in 1982. I was a transfer student & loved my “new” home. I worked many years there as a staff nurse, head nurse & assistant director of nursing. Many, many fond memories of DH.

  15. I was an intern at Deaconess in 1997 and loved the experience. I have great memories of that building and hate it was destroyed.

  16. So many memories. I graduated from the 3 year school in 1942.
    Learned so much that I continue to use.

  17. I gas my son there in 11-6-97 I really didnt Care for it back then but now sitting here thinking i really like that hospital cant Belive it close all this time I thought it was still open

  18. Of course i have kids now my oldest was born out of town my last two was born in barnes my kids was born 94-97-01-12

  19. I was a CCU nurse from 89-93. Was one of the lucky nurses to start up the open heart unit. Enjoyed all the staff and learned alot from all of them. Was very sad to drive through St Louis today and see it was gone.

  20. I was born there on Valentine’s Day in 1941.
    Was Deaconess considered to be in St. Louis county or city?

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