Crile Military Hospital

Description

Rustling trees, wildlife, ponds, fountains, and bustling co-eds. The first impressions of Cuyahoga Community College's Western Campus would, most likely, not include hints of its significant military history. Wounded soldiers, German prisoners of war, and an entire military "city" were once the occupants inhabiting the property at 11000 Pleasant Valley Road in Parma. The site's rich history began when Crile General Hospital was dedicated on Easter Sunday 1944.

Built as a "temporary" facility, Crile grew to be more than a hospital. Its barracks-type structures were in almost continuous use for thirty years and served a variety of purposes. The Crile complex provided medical care to veterans of two wars, held 250 German POWs during WW II, and housed a Nike anti-aircraft missile base at the start of the Cold War. It became home to Tri-C's Western Campus in 1966.

Crile General Hospital was built by the U.S. Army and named in honor of George Washington Crile (1864-1943), an internationally renowned surgeon and founder of the Cleveland Clinic. Crile served in both the Spanish American War and WWI and was a pioneer in military medicine, leading research and treatment of shock, blood transfusion, and blood banking.

Crile General Hospital actually received its first patient weeks before the official opening. In early March 1944, Richard Currier, a severely wounded POW, arrived as the lone patient in a facility with nearly 2,000 beds, 7 miles of corridors, and a staff of 1,000. Other patients arrived a few weeks later. In December 1944 the first detachment of German POWs arrived from Camp Perry, Ohio and remained until the end of 1945. Repatriated to Germany at the end of the war, many returned to the United States and subsequently became citizens.

With the end of WWII, Crile General Hospital became Crile Veterans Hospital in June 1946. Crile General Hospital had treated and healed over 15,000 patients by this time. The capacity of Crile was reduced to 1,000 beds, but was reorganized for clinical study and teaching. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and corrective therapy were additional aspects of the Veterans Hospital's program.

The Crile Hospital in Parma closed in 1964, relocating to a new facility in University Circle (now the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center). In the Fall of 1966, however, life was again back in its empty ward and hallways as Cuyahoga Community College's newly-created Western Campus enrolled 3,000 students. In 1975, the barracks were torn down and a new campus rose on the site of the old hospital to meet the community's expanding educational needs.

The site's military legacy has not been forgotten, however. Dedicated to preserving Cuyahoga Community College Western Campus's rich history, the Crile Archives, housed at the Tri-C Western Campus, is home to artifacts, documents, photographs, and books chronicling combat medicine and veterans' experiences from World War I to the present.

Photos Show

Entertaining the Troops, 1944

Artist/Illustrator Ray Prohaska drawing patient Albert Pruo (in wheelchair) at Crile Hospital in 1944.

Image Courtesy of Cleveland Public Library

Cadet Nurses

A detachment of Cadet Nurses at Crile General Hospital during World War II.

The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps formed in 1943 with the passage of the Bolton Act, a bill introduced by Cleveland-area U.S. Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton. The bill came in response to a shortage of nurses both at home and at the front. Women received free tuition to nursing school provided that they agreed to serve as a nurse (either at a military or civilian facility) for the duration of the war.

Image courtesy of Crile Hospital

POW Barracks

The German prisoner of war barracks on the campus of Crile General Hospital. One German POW was shot and killed while trying to escape the facility.

Image Courtesy of Cleveland Public Library

Hospital Chapel

Patient lighting a candle in the chapel of Crile General Hospital.

Image Courtesy of Cleveland Public Library

Patients in Bed

Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library

Physical Rehabilitation

A patient undergoes physical rehabilitation at Crile while another looks on.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library

Automotive Technology Class

A patient looks on during an automotive technology class at Crile. This sort of training was intended not only to prepare soldiers for life after war, but also to rehabilitate the wounded by engaging their mind and body in interesting tasks.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library

Cleveland Nike Missile Site, ca. 1956

Guided missiles, similar to the ones located on the grounds of Crile Hospital, circa 1956. The Ajax, Hercules, and Zeus missiles (left to right) were part of Project Nike, which developed anti-aircraft missiles during the first years of the Cold War in response to the threat of a Soviet attack. Seven Nike missile bases were built in Cuyahoga County during the mid-1950s, but all had closed by 1971.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library Special Collections

Mess Hall, 1944

The general mess hall for enlisted men at Crile had a seating capacity of 800. Officers and nurses had their own mess halls.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library

Aerial View

An aerial view of Crile Hospital

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library Special Collections

Cite this Page

“Crile Military Hospital,” Cleveland Historical, accessed October 24, 2014, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​316.​
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