This house probably doesn’t look like a hospital to you. But it was the very first home of Children’s Minnesota.
When caregivers welcomed the first patients here in 1924, they probably never imagined their “Children’s Hospital” would become “Children’s Minnesota,” one of the largest, most respected pediatric health systems in the nation, every year helping tens of thousands of kids thrive.
In 2024, we’re celebrating our 100th birthday; celebrating the many people who have helped us help kids since 1924. But first, let’s take a moment to recall our roots and look ahead to our next century of delivering world-class care.
“A hospital to fit the child”
In the early 1920s, not everyone agreed children needed their very own hospitals. Some thought they could just as well be treated in “children’s wards” inside adult hospitals.
A pediatrician named Walter Ramsey knew better. After serving in World War I, he dreamed of building in St. Paul what he had helped create in France: “A hospital to fit the child instead of molding a child to fit the hospital.”
Dr. Ramsey recognized children aren’t little versions of adults. They have unique needs and medical conditions. They require extra time, attention and care. Children need doctors and nurses who are specially trained to care for them.
Building a hospital from the ground up would take time, so Dr. Ramsey used the home above as temporary quarters; a place to start caring for patients and to show the community the vital need for a hospital devoted to children.
In 1928, Children’s Minnesota moved from its temporary location to a new, much larger, building at 311 Pleasant Ave, which still stands today. This hospital fulfilled Dr. Ramsey’s vision: “a model institution for the care…treatment and...study of all measures pertaining to the welfare of children.” Payment for service was “graded from free to a maximum, according to ability to pay.”
Over the following decades, the number of our patients grew, and their needs evolved. By the 1970s, it was time to move to a larger, more modern hospital, which opened in 1979 on its current St. Paul site.
Meanwhile in Minneapolis, community members had been championing a pediatric hospital for decades. Their dream was finally realized in 1973, with the opening of Minneapolis Children’s Medical Center.
In 1994, Minneapolis Children’s Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of St. Paul merged to become what we know today as Children’s Minnesota, the largest pediatric health care provider in the Upper Midwest.
The next 100
Our first hospital in 1924 had 16 beds. Today, Children’s Minnesota has more than 450 beds across two campuses. We care for more than 150,000 kids a year. Over the next century, the Kid Experts® at Children’s Minnesota will continue to evolve to meet kids’ needs with compassion and superior care.
We will continue to work outside the walls of our hospitals and clinics, partnering with communities to address health disparities so all children have excellent care.
We will continue to be a nonprofit health system where no child is turned away, regardless of their ability to pay for care.
This is what Children’s Minnesota is today. And this is where we’re headed in the future. But we won’t get very far without everyone who has made the last 100 years possible:
- Our patient families who trust us to provide the highest quality, child-centered care.
- Our donors and volunteers who dedicate their time and money to ensure Children’s Minnesota meets the ever-changing needs of kids.
- Our staff who have poured a century’s worth of heart and soul, talent and expertise into improving young lives.
- Our community who partners with us in many ways to help kids grow up happier and healthier.
All photographs featured in this blog post are sourced from the Children’s Minnesota archive.