White Rock Hospital

Driving through the Laurel Country, you may catch a glimpse of an imposing structure that is falling into ruins. The White Rock Hospital holds a place in the history of the county in the early 1900s. From 1919 to 1932, Madison County’s first (and only) hospital was maintained and operated by the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church, USA. The hospital owed its establishment to Frances Goodrich, a Presbyterian Missionary worker, who came to the Laurel area in the late 1800s. While working on education and preserving craft, she realized the need for medical care. The challenge of attracting a physician to this remote area was finally met when her story reached Dr. George Packard in Massachusetts. His wife had been a missionary and so Dr. Packard was familiar with mission work. The Packards moved to the area but first had to win the confidence of the local people. When a leading community member, James Jimmerson Tweed lay dying, Dr. Packard operated on him on a dining table and saved his life. That act would lead not only to the respect of the people but also to the needed contribution of the land from a grateful Jimmerson Tweed to build White Rock Hospital. The money to build it was raised by Goodrich and Packard who had been given permission to do so by the Presbyterian Home Mission Board.

White Rock Hospital today

At a cost of $75,000, the 20-bed hospital opened in 1919 equipped with complete operating and clinical facilities as well as a ward for children and adults and an isolation and orthopedic area. The water was supplied by a large spring on the top of the mountain above the hospital. And, as evidence of the support of the community, the local people furnished the 1000 feet of water pipe needed. Dr. Packard was the first physician and hospital superintendent. The need for medical care was supported by the statistics of the number of people treated until the hospital closed in 1932. In 1928, care was provided to 2707 patients and that number doubled in 1928.Dr. Packard was succeeded by Dr. Eve Locke who organized a preventive and corrective public health program for the entire county. When the Presbyterian Church ended its sponsorship in 1932 because of inadequate funding, the hospital had to close its doors.