The Bulluck Hospital operated at 221 N. Front St., Wilmington [Map this], from the early 1920s to the 1950s. You can still read the hospital’s name above the three-story building, used for offices and residences today.
The early 20th century saw a boom in private hospitals, according to Janet Seapker, a local historian who has researched Wilmington’s medical heritage. That’s when the Babies Hospital near Wrightsville Beach was established, although the much larger James Walker Hospital had been open since 1901.
The Bulluck Hospital was founded by Dr. Ernest Southerland Bulluck in the early 1920s and saw more than 500 patients in its first year of operation. Dr. Ralph H. Davis was co-owner and operator of the hospital.
It hired its first woman doctor, Dr. Annie T. Smith of Durham, in November 1923. In 1924, it became the first hospital in Wilmington to “meet all requirements of the American College of Surgeons,” Seapker said.
It was considered a modern, well-equipped hospital, according to “The Lonely Road: A History of the Physicks and Physicians of the Lower Cape Fear, 1735-1976” by Diane Cashman.
Dr. Bulluck died in 1944 and the clinic closed for a while before being reopened by a team of doctors.
In 1948, the Wilmington Star wrote that the 25-bed Bulluck Hospital had admitted 916 patients the year before. It said the clinic specialized in surgery and offered medical, X-ray, laboratory and dietary service.
At that time it was owned by Drs. W.C. Mebane, H.R. Coleman, E.P. Walker and R.T. Sinclair, a radiologist and internal medical specialist who won a StarNews Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
The small hospital closed when Mebane, Sinclair and Sam Pace began organizing what would become Cape Fear Memorial Hospital in the 1950s.
Date posted: July 24, 2009
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