Utopia Hospital. Dr. William Lewis Haywood, most often seen in print as "W.L.," is credited with opening the first black hospital in Oklahoma City, initially called the Utopia Hospital. The cover story article in the December 2005 issue of Oklahoma City Key Magazine says that Dr. W.H. Slaughter was also a founder of the hospital, as does Dr. J.A. Cox in a 1942 Oklahoman article which will be shown shortly. According to an October 20, 2003, Oklahoman article by Steve Lackmeyer, "Haywood founded Utopia Hospital, 415 NE 1, as the first hospital for blacks, and later became the first black physician at University Hospital, which is now the OU Medical Center." In a March 1, 2001, Journal Record article by Max Nichols, "Re-evaluating Deep Deuce," Nichols gives the same physical address for the hospital but doesn't identify it by name.

A photo is shown at the end of this article. Also, see the Haywood Building mini-article.

But, why have I added a "?" by the hospital's name?

At first blush, the hospital's first location seems pretty secure even though neither Nichols nor Lackmeyer offered any corroborating evidence. I like to know original sources if possible when reporting history. More, none of the articles above mentioned date the hospital's beginning and ending nor do they speak of other possible locations and/or when they occurred. As will be observed below, the hospital did move and it also came to have a different name.

A thorough search of the Oklahoman's 1901-1910 archives shows only two articles which mention the hospital, one of which gives another address for the hospital, as shown below.
1922 Map



1922 Area Map (click for larger)

Even limiting the 1901-1910 archive search to the word, "Utopia," only 2 of 293 articles mention the hospital. Note that the second article gives the hospital the vague address as being in the 600 block on East Second. February 3, 1910



I say again, the 600 block on East Second.
November 1, 1910

I looked at all available Sanborn Maps to view the north and south side of the 600 block of East 2nd Street and came up with nothing. Hospitals were ordinarily identified in Sanborn Maps. But, recalling that Sanborn Maps are not available between 1906 and 1922, some unavailable map may have identified it. As it is, the most relevant available maps are the 1906 and 1922 Sanborn Maps showing the 600 block and they are shown below -- click on either for a larger view. In the maps, a "D" stands for "dwelling" and all E. 2nd buildings are marked with a "D." Don't be confused by the "Big Road" and "Mead" street names -- they were changed after 1906 to Byers and Durland.
1906 Sanborn Map

1922 Sanborn Map

I could locate no Oklahoman articles in the 1920s, 1930s or 1940s which mention the name Utopia Hospital, except the one shown below written by a physician member of the black community in September 27, 1942. In that, Dr. J.A. Cox informs that the hospital's name was changed to Great Western Hospital but he doesn't say when. However, a January 29, 1920 Oklahoman article shows a death occuring at Great Western Hospital presumably a day or so earlier so the name change occurred before the January 1920 article was written.
January 29, 1920



Note that Dr. Cox wrote that the hospital's location changed twice and that it was then located in the 1800 block on East 4th, which would be about two blocks west of Eastern Avenue, now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Only twice? Maybe he wasn't counting the 1st location as a "change." We now have three addresses, even if incomplete: 415 East 1st, the 600 block of East 2nd, and, last, the 1800 block on East 4th.

The February 15, 1948, article shown below gives a specific address, 1824 1/2 NE 4th, and a fairly specific closing date, February 1947.
September 27, 1942



Aside from the retrospecitve article shown below which really adds nothing other than a picture, that's all I've been able to dig up so far.

So, what does it all add up to?

  • Opening date: Unknown
  • 1st Address: Almost certainly 415 East 1st
  • 2nd Address: Possibly 600 block on East 2nd
  • Last Address: Certainly 1824 1/2 NE 4th
  • Closing date: February 1947
February 15, 1948

Notice the outside stairway to the second floor -- look closely at the 1922 Sanborn map at the very top of this article and again shown below and you will see an outside stairway of the building located at 415 East 1st and at the same relative location. The full article doesn't contain any remarks about the hospital, but if you want to read it, click on the crop from the article at the right.


That well may be Dr. W.L. Haywood on the stairs.
A nice September 30, 1973, Oklahoman article by an unidentified writer contains a not-too-bad photo of the early day Utopia Hospital, located on the second floor above a clothes pressing shop.

September 30, 1973


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