DALLAS — Hospital walls that hold tens of thousands of memories, including a pivotal moment in United States history, will be torn down piece by piece.
Dallas County is saying goodbye to the former Parkland Memorial Hospital, the place where President John F. Kennedy succumbed to his injuries after being shot by Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 22, 1963.
The estimated 24-month demolition kicked off Monday, July 11.
On Sept. 25, 1954, the 7-story Parkland Memorial Hospital located at 5201 Harry Hines Boulevard first opened its doors.
From that moment, the hospital served the Dallas community for 61 years – until the last inpatient was wheeled across the Mike A. Myers Sky Bridge into the newly constructed Parkland hospital on Aug. 16, 2015, the hospital said in a press release.
Among the countless life-safe measures and devastating losses, is also one of the most beautiful things experienced inside the hospital – the moment when a baby shares their first cries entering into the world.
Grady Portis, now 60 years old, was born in Parkland and in an interview with the hospital, he shared how much the building meant to him as he also worked there for 22 years.
“It’s a little sad that the building is coming down,” Portis said. “There’s so much history. I can remember my grandmother bringing me to the Emergency Department when I was just a kid and had gotten hurt. On my last birthday [in March], I went up to the Labor & Delivery area and thought ‘this is where my life began!’”
It’s also the place where lives tragically ended, including the heart-shattering loss of President John F. Kennedy. After being shot by Oswald, Kennedy was transported to “Trauma Room 1” at Parkland, where he was pronounced dead. This forever engraved the site in a significant moment in history.
According to the hospital, a “Trauma Room 1” plaque was dedicated to the hospital and was placed in the exact spot of the Trauma Room, which is now located in the Radiology Department. A bust of Kennedy was also donated to the hospital in 2012.
Despite its place in history, the hospital was never designated as a historical site.
“Every year, especially in November, we receive inquiries from people asking about Trauma Room 1, but it hasn’t been in existence for years,” Parkland’s Senior Vice President of Support Services John Raish said in a news release. “The entire room was purchased by the federal government decades ago and all of its contents are in a secure location near Kansas City, Missouri.”
In its shuttered state, hospital officials decided that the best decision was to demolish the building, due to its deterioration and the high cost of ongoing electrical power consumption.
“The building is only barely viable for administrative operations, but because of its age and the lack of availability of parts for many of the mechanical systems, it’s time to make room for a building that is projected to save the Dallas County taxpayers about $3.4 million in annual lease costs,” said Raish.
The process to demolish the building will take several steps, including the removal of asbestos. It’s expected to be fully demolished in November 2023, hospital officials said.
Officials said following the demolition, the plan is to construct an administration tower to house Parkland staff, who are currently in numerous leased spaces throughout Dallas.