Spohn Hospital

By: Mary H. Ogilvie

Type: General Entry

Published: December 1, 1995

Spohn Hospital (originally Spohn Sanitarium), the first hospital in Corpus Christi, is a Catholic institution founded in 1905 by Arthur Edward Spohn. When Spohn moved to Corpus Christi in 1895 and noted the lack of medical facilities, he embarked upon a campaign to raise funds for a hospital. Through the efforts of Alice King Kleberg $6,000 was collected from the residents of Corpus Christi for the project. Her husband, Robert J. Kleberg, prepared a drawing of the proposed sanitarium around 1903. It was raised on North Beach, facing south, on a piece of property donated by a prominent businessman, John G. Kenedy, Sr., Spohn's brother-in-law. Once the hospital began to take shape, Spohn approached Bishop Peter Verdaguer of the Apostolic Vicariate of Brownsville, for help in staffing. Verdaguer asked the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio to staff the new facility, and three of them, led by Mother Mary Cleophas Hurst, arrived in Corpus Christi on July 16, 1905. Later that month Monsignor Claude Jaillet was appointed first chaplain of the hospital, and the first patient was admitted by George Heaney, a physician associate of Spohn's.

On September 14, 1919, the hospital was demolished by a hurricane in which one of the nuns, two patients, and two employees were killed. Kenedy and his wife came to the aid of the hospital by giving up their home to the sisters and their patients until a new facility could be built. Soon afterward, Alice Kleberg began to collect funds to replace the sanitarium. Her mother, Henrietta C. King, gave the land for the hospital-five acres near the bay. By 1923 Spohn Hospital was operating on Ayers and Third streets, with fifty beds on three floors. That same year, it acquired its Class A rating from the American College of Surgeons and was rated one of the best hospitals in the state. Fifty rooms were added to the hospital in 1937, and in 1952 a five-story annex was built, giving the hospital another 100 beds. A professional nursing school was established at the hospital in 1954 through the Lt. James R. Dougherty, Jr., Foundation; the nursing school was closed in 1968, and students completed their training at Del Mar College. Through the succeeding years, the hospital continued to expand. The Welder Memorial Chapel was added in 1955; another five-story addition, Annex B, was made in 1961; the Rachael Vaughan Radiation Therapy Center was opened in 1964; the main building was remodeled and enlarged in 1965; another five-story addition was made in 1969, which gave the hospital a total of 455 beds; and in 1974 the board of directors of the hospital began an $18 million expansion project which added a thirty-bed intensive care unit, an elevator tower, a two-level parking garage, and diagnostic and emergency care facilities, as well as a three-story addition for other departments and a six-story professional office building.

In the 1990s the Spohn Health System was composed of the Spohn Hospital, a ten-story, 560-bed medical facility, and the Spohn-Kleberg Memorial Hospital in Kingsville, a 100-bed facility. On February 14, 1994, the 102-bed Spohn Hospital South opened as a full-service acute care hospital. All maternity services were moved to the south-side location. In 1992 there were 17,402 inpatients and 61,393 outpatient visits in the Spohn system. The Spohn Health System publishes Spohntaneous, an employee newsletter, and SpohnLIFE, a community newsletter. The institution continued to be operated by the Sisters of Charity under the directorship of the board of trustees of the hospital, made up of members of the business community and professional and religious citizens of Corpus Christi. The hospital was supported through charges for patient care, donations, and grants. In addition, the Women's Auxiliary Volunteer Program donated the time of its members to the hospital and raised money for new equipment.

Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin.


  • Health and Medicine
  • Hospitals, Clinics, and Medical Centers
  • Religion
  • Catholic
  • Homes and Orphanages

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mary H. Ogilvie, “Spohn Hospital,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/spohn-hospital.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1995

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