Methodist Hospital, an internationally known referral hospital, opened in 1924. It developed from a thirty-bed private hospital founded in 1908 by Dr. Oscar L. Norsworthy. Among its early trustees were William L. Clayton, Jesse H. Jones, and Walter W. Fondren. A long-term benefactor was Ella Cochrum (Mrs. Walter W.) Fondren, who became a trustee after her husband's death and who for many decades was the only woman on the board. Methodist struggled to survive during its early years. It remained open during the Great Depression only through the management of its administrator, Josie Mooring Roberts. It took a new direction after World War II due to the actions of two Houston philanthropists, Monroe D. Anderson and Hugh Roy Cullen. Anderson left a bequest of $22 million that led to the development of the Texas Medical Center at Houston. Cullen, a legendary oilman, and his wife Lillie gave $1 million to Methodist Hospital, a gift that enabled it to move to the center. The new 300-bed facility opened in 1951.
Methodist became a teaching hospital for Baylor University College of Medicine, which had also moved to the Texas Medical Center. Because of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, the Baylor affiliation transformed Methodist from a good hospital into a great one. DeBakey, who joined Baylor in 1948, pioneered cardiovascular procedures that brought him wide acclaim. Patients from all over the world, including the duke of Windsor, came to him for treatment and taxed the facilities of the hospital during the 1950s and 1960s. To accommodate these patients and the growing population of Houston, Methodist enlarged to 1,040 beds by 1971 under the administration of Ted Bowen. The growth continued under the administration of Larry Mathis, who succeeded Bowen in 1983. By 1990 the Methodist Hospital complex included more than 1,500 beds, outpatient facilities, office buildings, parking garages, and a hotel. By various agreements, Methodist also included a number of hospitals in other locations that utilized its specialists and high technology. While maintaining its position as a cardiovascular center, Methodist, in cooperation with Baylor, also pioneered in organ transplants, neurological disorders of children, and other areas of research and development. Chairmen of the board of directors have been John T. Scott, Raymond P. Elledge, Walter L. Goldston, Robert A. Shepherd, Sr., O'Banion Williams, Curtis B. Delhomme, and A. Frank Smith, Jr.