Skip to main content

History of Duke Hospital

Duke Hospital in 1930s

Photo: Duke Hospital in the snow (DUMC Archives)



Trinity College President John Franklin Crowell makes public a plan for starting a medical college with a teaching hospital at Trinity College.


James B. Duke establishes The Duke Endowment and allocates part of his $40 million gift to transform Durham’s Trinity College into Duke University.


James B. Duke makes an additional bequest to establish the Duke School of Medicine, Duke School of Nursing, and Duke Hospital, with the goal of improving health care in the Carolinas and nationwide.


Construction begins on the medical school and Duke Hospital.


Three thousand applicants apply to the new medical school. Seventy first- and third-year students are selected, including four women.


Duke Hospital opens July 20, 1930, attracting 25,000 visitors.

Classes begin in hospital administration, dietetics, and medical technology on August 15.

Eighteen third-year and 30 first-year medical students begin classes on October 2.


The Duke School of Nursing's first class of 24 undergraduate students begin classes on January 2.

The dedication ceremony for Duke Medical School and Duke Hospital is held on April 20.

The Private Diagnostic Clinic, Duke’s physician practice organization, is organized September 15.

Duke Hospital Main Entrance, circa 1940 (DUMC Archives)


The first wing is added to Duke Hospital.

The 65th General Hospital is authorized as an affiliated unit of the Duke University School of Medicine on October 17.


The Outpatient Clinic and Private Diagnostic Clinic as well as the Hanes and Reed private floors and operating rooms are opened.

The original medical school and hospital are renamed Duke University Medical Center.


A new hospital entrance, the Woodhall Building, opens.


The new $94.5 million, 616-bed Duke Hospital opens, bringing the total number of patient beds to more than 1,000.


The Duke University Health System (DUHS)—an integrated academic health care system serving a broad area of central North Carolina—is officially created as Duke establishes partnerships with Duke Regional Hospital, Raleigh Community Hospital, and other regional health care providers. DUHS today includes three hospitals, ambulatory care and surgery clinics, primary care medical practice clinics, home health services, hospice services, physician practice affiliations, managed care providers, and other related facilities and services.


Future DUHS expansion includes the development of the Hospital Addition for Surgery (HAFS) building.

The Emergency Department (ED) Expansion project provides 71 treatment spaces accommodating over 60,000 annual visits, including a full Pediatric ED, 4 trauma resuscitation rooms, CT scanner, X-ray, decontamination area, ambulance garage, a daylit waiting area, and a linear exam area arrangement for increased efficiency.


DUHS moves forward with the construction of a dedicated, state-of-the-art cancer center and the new Duke Medicine Pavilion, a major expansion of surgery and critical care services at Duke University Hospital.


On February 27, a new landmark opens its doors on Duke’s medical center campus—the seven-story, 267,000-square-foot Duke Cancer Center. More than just a modern space, it’s an environment designed to transform the experience of every patient welcomed inside. The center consolidates outpatient cancer services and clinical research from across the campus into a patient-centered, multidisciplinary facility. The building adjoins the current Morris Cancer Clinic and is equipped with, among other features, 140 examination rooms, 75 infusion stations, a pharmacy, and an outdoor garden terrace where chemotherapy patients can go while receiving their infusions.


Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education

The Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education opens in January. The six-floor, 104,000-square foot building houses a meeting hall, a team-based learning auditorium, teaching labs, and clinical skills and medical simulation space, including the Surgical Education and Activities Lab (SEAL).

Duke Medicine Pavilion
Duke Medicine Pavilion at Duke University Hospital, 2013

The Duke Medicine Pavilion at Duke University Hospital opens in June. The eight-floor, 608,000-square foot pavilion includes 160 critical care rooms, 18 operating rooms, and an imaging suite. The operating suites feature the latest in surgical technologies, as well as intraoperative magnetic resonance and computed tomography (CT) imaging capabilities that enable greater real-time precision and safety in complex procedures. With Duke University Hospital having to turn more than 900 patients away the previous year due to lack of space, the newly created critical care beds were urgently needed. Also, the 64 new intermediate care beds allow for optimal transition of patients from intensive care beds to standard hospital rooms.

The expanded Duke clinical facilities also provide state-of-the-art training and education for the nearly 900 residents and fellows at Duke—one of the largest training programs in the United States.

This major expansion project follows several recent significant capital projects throughout Duke Medicine, including renovations at Duke Raleigh Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital, and the opening of several new clinics in Wake County (Brier Creek, Morrisville, Knightdale, and North Raleigh).


Duke University begins construction of a third Medical Sciences Research Building (MSRB). The $103 million, 155,000-square-foot building will exclusively house bench lab research.