O'REILLY GENERAL HOSPITAL OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
ABOUT O'REILLY: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
by Michael Glenn
In February 1941, Springfield was chosen as the site of the O'Reilly General Army hospital, to be located on a reservation bounded by Division, Fremont, Pythian and Glenstone Avenue, an area later occupied in large part by Evangel University.
The staff of O'Reilly was recognized as among the best among Army hospital staff. This was a result of an early decision made by the post commander. In May 1941, Colonel George B. Foster Jr. declared his intention to make O'Reilly the "hospital with a soul."
Foster's emphasis on excellent heath care was later recognized by the Army Surgeon General as a model for most Army hospitals and the "best in the Nation."
By the end of 1941, the United States was totally committed to World War II, and the Hospital took on new importance, as long term medical care became necessary for returning soldiers. O'Reilly staff served over 100,000 patients during the hospital's five years of operation. Forty-two thousand of those patients were wounded and injured soldiers. In addition 60,000 military dependents were also cared for. A few P.O.W.s were also treated.
Once the war ended, the army's need for a hospital of this size changed. In September 1946, O'Reilly closed as an Army facility. In February 1947, operation of the Hospital was begun by the United States Veterans Administration, and was soon serving patients at the rate of 1800 per year. In August 1952, The Veteran's Administration closed O'Reilly, beginning several years of idleness and political wrangling for the property and buildings. In December 1954, the property was acquired by the General Council of the Assemblies of God paving the way for the creation of Evangel College
Fifty years later, Smith Park, the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and Evangel University have replaced most of the 250 buildings on O'Reilly's original 160-acre site. Some landmarks from O'Reilly remain; the post chapel was moved and serves as a church at Seminole and Lone Pine. Southwest Missouri State University's McDonald Arena was the site of O'Reilly's physical conditioning battalion. One of the most striking buildings associated with the hospital was the Enlisted Men's Service Club, built originally as the Pythian Home by the Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization. The service club was the location of various recreational activities, including entertainment, parties etc.
The photos in this presentation are owned by Evangel University, who retain all rights. Inquiries should be made to:
Dale Jensen, Director
Klaude Kendrick Library
1111 N. Glenstone
Springfield, Missouri 65802