Babies Hospital, Seaside Resort Facility, Opened 1920

Dr. Sidbury and the nurses of Babies Hospital. Image from the New Hanover County Public Library.

On June 6, 1920, Wilmington physician J. Buren Sidbury opened Babies Hospital on the sound just across from Wrightsville Beach. Sidbury chose the location because he believed that seaside breezes had curative powers and were especially good for expectant mothers. Similar seaside resort hospitals could be found in Virginia Beach and Atlantic Beach, N.J. at the time.

The original cottage that housed the hospital burned in 1927 and was replaced by a building that featured 22 rooms, a spacious ward and a rooftop garden. It remained the state’s only pediatric care facility until Duke Hospital opened in 1930.

From 1942 until 1967, Babies Hospital operated a nurses training program. A third floor was added and a dormitory for nurses was constructed.

Patient use peaked in 1967, and although the hospital primarily served the eastern Carolinas, it was not unusual for patients to be referred from other states up and down the East Coast. In 1978, the board of directors closed the hospital since the need for a specialized facility had by then diminished. Progress in the treatment of children’s diseases had replaced the efficacious sea breezes.

The building was demolished in 2003 over the objections of preservationists.

 

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