HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
Lester E. Cox Medical Center
The photograph in the postcard shows the Lester E. Cox Medical Center as it looked in 1968, the year it received the name Cox Medical Center. It is located at 1423 North Jefferson. The hospital started in 1907 as Burge-Deaconess Hospital, a name which was shortened to Burge Hospital almost immediately.
Lester Cox's association began in 1948 when the 600-bed hospital in the photograph had only 57 beds and its debts exceeded the value of the hospital. At a meeting of the hospital's physicians Lester E. Cox was mentioned as someone who might be interested in helping Burge Hospital. He agreed and was named chairman of the hospital board. The very next day painters and carpenters began work on the hospital at Cox's direction and expense. The Springfield Leader and Press ran a story by Eddie Bass that had started out telling about the hospital's demise but ended up being a story about its rebirth.
Lester E. Cox told the physicians of the hospital that if they could raise $75,000 for Burge, he would match it. The physicians raised $150,000, which Cox matched. The hospital had major expansions in 1952 when an all-new Burge Hospital was dedicated, in 1960 when a new wing was opened and in 1965 when a huge expansion program was completed, increasing the size of the hospital to 534 beds.
During his lifetime Cox did not want his name given to the hospital, so after his death in 1968 the hospital was renamed the Lester E. Cox Medical Center.
The beautiful 3-tiered fountain in the photograph was donated by Cox after he and his wife returned from a visit to see famous fountains in Trivoli, near Rome. He also had beautiful tulip beds planted around Burge-Protestant after he visited Amsterdam and admired the tulips there.
In 1981 Cox Medical Center became Cox Medical Centers when Cox Medical Center South was built on the "medical mile" on South National Avenue. The original Cox hospital then became Cox Medical Center North, a name it still retains.