Parkview Through the Decades

A historical perspective: Born from despair, rising to success. Parkview in the 1920’s.

Parkview in 1926

Just over a century ago, the devastating flood of 1921 nearly destroyed Pueblo - splitting the city in half for weeks before the flood waters finally subsided. As recovery efforts progressed, six prominent physicians in the Pueblo community foresaw the need for a new hospital on the rapidly expanding north side of town. These doctors witnessed many unfortunate flood victims needing care – but unable to cross the swollen rivers to reach Pueblo’s two hospitals (St. Mary’s and Corwin) located on the south side of town. No longer would portions of the community be isolated from access to healthcare.

The new hospital opened its doors to patients on March 17, 1923, from an area overlooking the popular Mineral Palace Park – and was christened “Parkview”.  

Originally operated by Parkview Hospital Association in a private residence, construction of the present hospital was completed in 1926 on the same site. The new 3 story, u-shaped structure located off 17th Street was designed to provide additional wings and could accommodate 23 patients. That original structure with its unique Tudor Style architecture remains an important part of the hospital and a historical symbol of Pueblo.

Renewal and Recovery. Parkview in the 1930’s.

Pueblo emerged from the Great Flood of 1921 with a new river levee system, an improved downtown district, and upgrades to city utility and safety infrastructure. Parkview Hospital was established in 1923, providing health resources for the expanding community in northern Pueblo.

The decade of the 1930’s proved tough times for most in Pueblo and southern Colorado, with economic boom and bust cycles plaguing business owners, famers, and community members alike. The stock market crash in 1929 devastated many small, local companies, who were still struggling to reopen following the 1921 flood.

When the Great Depression began in the 1930s, agriculture, livestock and mining would eventually get hit hardest. Locally, agriculture would be affected the worst by the Great Depression as continued drought and a drop in grain prices would eventually lead to the dustbowl of the 1930s.

Despite the hardships, renewal and recovery were underway.

In 1933, Pueblo Junior College was created, eventually to grow and spilt into Southern Colorado State College (now Colorado State University Pueblo) and Pueblo Vocational College (now Pueblo Community College).

Baseball legend Babe Ruth made a special appearance in 1938 at County Park – now Runyon Field. Local sports hero Earl Harry ‘Dutch” Clark played professionally in the National Football League from 1931 to 1938 and was selected by the Associated Press (AP) as the outstanding football player of the 1930s. 

Pueblo benefitted from The Federal Emergency Relief Administration and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), who helped with new construction at many Pueblo locations, including the Colorado State Fairgrounds, the Pueblo Zoo, Mineral Palace Park, Pueblo City Park, Pueblo Junior College, Colorado State Hospital, and Pueblo Mountain Park. Many of these WPA build projects still stand today.

A decade of change. Parkview in the 1940’s.

As the community continued to recover from the devastating climate conditions of the Dust Bowl and the economic downturns of the 1930’s, the decade of the 1940’s provided its own challenges.

War in far-away Europe and the Pacific eventually impacted the community of Pueblo as citizens stepped up to support the war effort. During World War II, Pueblo Army Air Base was one of the major bomber training fields for pilots and crews flying the B-24 “Liberator”.  Six major bomb groups trained at PAAB, including the 308th Bombardment Group known as the “Flying Tigers” and the "Mighty 8th" Air Force. Hollywood actor (Major) Clark Gable also trained at PAAB with the 351st Bomber Group. In 1943, Puebloan William J. Crawford was awarded a Medal of Honor following a fierce battle in Southern Italy, heroically saving the lives of his platoon, but becoming a POW in the process.

In March 1948, members of the Parkview Hospital association voted to turn the hospital over to the Protestant Episcopal church and changed the name to “Parkview Episcopal Hospital.” The new Hospital Board president, Reverend Harold Bowen, commented that “the new management would build a new wing to the facility” as soon as possible. He also stated that “no hospital of comparable size has the excellent record of management and service that Parkview has provided since 1923.”  

One year later in March 1949, power shovels began excavating for the new $250,000 four story wing addition on the west side of the hospital. Set to open in 1950, it added 50 additional beds and the latest in medical technology.

Pueblo was better connected with cities to the north with an upgraded concrete roadway system. Prior to the new Highway 85/87, a trip to Denver on the unpaved SH-1 would take 8.5 hours. The interstate would continue to be expanded over the next decades.

Growth and Expansion. Parkview in the 1950’s.

Pueblo experienced growing pains following the end of World War II and the return of soldiers from Europe and the Pacific areas. Local businesses retooled from the war effort and construction of new homes and offices fueled economic growth. The Pueblo Airport was moved from its location on Prairie Avenue to new current home east of the city and renamed “Pueblo Memorial Airport” in honor of the veterans of the war. The city quickly expanded outward, and in 1953, Pueblo County High School was built in Vineland. 

The new $250,000 four story wing addition on the west side of the hospital opened in 1950, adding 50 additional beds and the latest in medical technology. Those rooms quickly filled, and more space was necessary.

The 1950s saw great advances in the detection and cure of illness. The breakthrough that received the most publicity involved polio, a dreaded disease that had afflicted President Franklin Roosevelt and was particularly severe when contracted by children. Jonas Salk developed a polio vaccine that was administered by injection. Even though it only was partially effective, it was considered a godsend. As a result, Salk became the decade's most celebrated scientist-researcher. Almost immediately after the Salk vaccine was successfully tested and given to masses of Americans, Albert Sabin announced that he had developed a more advanced vaccine. Not only was this one more effective, but it could also be taken orally. 

New surgical procedures revolutionized medicine. For example, heart surgeons could stop the blood flow within the human body, allowing them to repair faulty hearts. For the first time, artificial valves were implanted in hearts, and electric heart pacemakers were developed to control the pace of the heartbeat. By the end of the decade, open-heart surgery was performed regularly. The success rate of such procedures increased steadily.

On March 4, 1959, the Parkview Episcopal Hospital Board of Trustees announced plans for another expansion project, a $1.2 million dollar addition to be built on south side of original building with a new entrance facing 16th Street. This new addition will add 72 more hospital beds and the three story building will be constructed with the ability to grow to 5 stories in future years. A five room surgery suite, expansion of the x-ray facilities, and installation of a new cardiovascular-pulmonary will enable the hospital staff to better diagnose and treat patients in Pueblo and Southern Colorado.