Filed Under Healthcare

Creating Cleveland Clinic

The Cleveland Clinic was founded on February 5, 1921. Frank E. Bunts, George W. Crile, and William E. Lower volunteered to serve their country as field surgeons and physicians in the Medical Corps of the United States Army during World War I. The military hospital experience impressed these men with the efficiency of an organization that included every branch or specialty of medicine and surgery. By the time that they returned home, Bunts, Crile and Lower had recognized the benefits that could be obtained from cooperation by a group of specialists. Along with John Phillips, they came together to found the Cleveland Clinic.

Many private practices and physicians were against the concept of opening a group practice. They believed that such a wealth of resources available to a group might give them an unfair competitive advantage. Fortunately, the founders of the Clinic were professors in one or more of the Cleveland medical schools and all had served as presidents of the Academy of Medicine. A core ideal emerged to create an institution in which medicine and surgery could be practiced, studied and taught by a group of specialists.

The Cleveland Clinic officially opened for business on Monday, February 28, 1921. The beautiful new building featured four stories, of which the upper three were built around a large central well extending from the second floor up to a glass skylight. The main waiting room was located at the bottom of the well on the second floor; while the office, examination rooms and treatment rooms opened onto the elegant second floor waiting area. The x-ray department, clinical laboratories and a pharmacy were located on the first floor. The fourth floor contained the art and photography department, editorial offices, offices for administrative personnel, a library and an executive boardroom.

The hospital quickly grew in popularity and Clevelanders accepted it so enthusiastically that plans for expansion were made within the first few years after it opened. By 1928, the Cleveland Clinic was a rapidly expanding, state-of-the-art hospital full of promise with potential to become one of the leading medical institutions in the nation.

Images

Clinic Staff This is a picture of some of the staff at the Cleveland Clinic. On a typical day, the clinic staffed over 80 employees. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
First Building, ca. 1920s The original Cleveland Clinic building founded by George W. Crile during the 1920s. It is located at Euclid Ave and E.93rd. This building still stands today and has been incorporated into the beautiful Cleveland Clinic campus. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
George Crile This is a picture of George W. Crile, one of the founders of the Cleveland Clinic. He would come to emulate a concepts he learned while in the U.S. military hospitals during World War I, to create an institution in which medicine and surgery could be practiced, studied and taught by a group of specialists. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Location Before Construction This is a photograph of the future location of the Cleveland Clinic. Construction started on Oakdale Street, or as it would later be known, East 93rd looking south from Euclid Ave. The clinic officially opened for business on Monday, February 28, 1921 and 42 patients registered. The hospital grew in popularity very quickly and Clevelanders accepted it so enthusiastically that it made plans to expand within the first few years. Image Courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
Library This is a picture of the library at the original Cleveland Clinic. ImageCourtesy of Case Western Reserve University. Dittrick Medical History Museum.
Boardroom This picture shows the all important executive boardroom of the Cleveland Clinic where very important issues were discussed. Image Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University. Dittrick Medical History Museum.
Waiting Room Entry This picture shows the entry to the waiting room of the Cleveland Clinic when it opened in 1921. In addition to the world-class surgeons and physicians, it was beautiful, expansive rooms with open ceilings that quickly endeared the hospital to its patients. Image Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University. Dittrick Medical History Museum.
Waiting Room This picture shows the beautiful waiting room area of the Cleveland Clinic during 1921. Image Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University. Dittrick Medical History Museum.

Location

Metadata

Brad Clifton and Jessica Carmosino, “Creating Cleveland Clinic,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 26, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/603.