Stop #1 – NCSSM (formerly Watts Hospital)

Corner of West Club Blvd. and Broad Street.

Durham tobacco millionaire George Washington Watts gave the fabulous sum of $1,000,000 in 1906 to build the finest medical institution south of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

The hospital opened in 1909 and originally consisted of the Main building facing Broad Street, an operating facility, and patient pavilions for men and women.

The buildings were designed by Boston architect Bertrand S. Taylor in an eclectic Mediterranean style with close connections to the Spanish Mission and Italian styles gaining in popularity in the west and south.

In 1926, a third and larger patient pavilion was opened. Watts gave this building in memory of his wife Valinda Beale Watts, who died in 1921. The brick additions facing West Club and Maryland Avenue were added around 1950.

The lobby of the Administration building is now as it appeared in 1909 and is probably the most beautiful public space in Durham.

The hospital closed in 1976 and in 1980, its 27-acre campus became the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM).

Related site: Postcards from Watts Hospital collected by NCSSM alumnus Kris Preacher.

Written by Tom Miller.