Celebrating 100 Years of Caring for Children

Children’s is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.


Children’s is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The hospital was incorporated January 11, 1907, and doors opened a month later. As part of year-long celebrations, the hospital revealed its First Century history wall yesterday.

Originally named Children’s Orthopedic Hospital, the hospital was started by Seattleite Anna Clise after the death of her son. Clise and 23 of her friends — a Who’s Who of the city’s leading women — formed an association to provide surgical care for children with orthopedic disorders regardless of a patients’ race, religion, gender or ability to pay. Each woman agreed to pay an annual membership fee of $10.

After first renting beds from Seattle General Hospital, Clise and the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital Association sought land on Queen Anne Hill for a free-standing facility. Two women from the Association climbed the Queen Anne water tower to scout a location that would be close to streetcars and far enough away from the smoky and unsanitary downtown. It was named Fresh Air House for that reason, as fresh air was seen then as a key to recovery and health.

In 1911, donated property bordering Fresh Air House allowed the trustees to build a three-story brick hospital complete with an operating room, sun porch and space for 70 patients. By 1917, a fourth story with 14 more beds, a playroom and a therapy pool was added.

In 1946, after decades of saving money, the association purchased 22 acres of land on Sand Point Way and moved patients into Children’s current home in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Seattle. Moving day, Saturday, April 11, 1953, branded “Operation Orthopedic,” took a single day with the help of approximately 1,000 volunteers including local moving businesses, teamsters, and a fleet of taxis.

“A century ago, Seattle got behind what turned out to be an amazing possibility that a Children’s Hospital here could take on the challenge to prevent, treat, and someday do away with the illnesses that plague children and devastate families,” said Dr. Thomas Hansen, CEO of Children’s.

Fifty-four years after the Laurelhurst campus was created, Children’s continues Clise’s legacy providing excellent patient care regardless of a family’s ability to pay with the vision to be the best children’s hospital.

“We are going to deliver the highest quality health care in every area of pediatric medicine,” said Hansen. “We could not have come this far without the passion and commitment of our staff, physicians and board members, and the generous community that has supported us every step of the way. We begin our next 100 years with pride in our legacy, humility before the children we treat and a strong sense of the work ahead.”

Story Project

In 2006, Children’s started the Children’s Story Project, a searchable historical archive of stories from patients, families, staff, volunteers, and guild members. Visitors to the website can add a story to the archive or search stories by keyword, diagnosis, or location.

Dick Larkin shared his story though the Story Project. Working as an Air Force radio operator at a remote location in 1965, he received this message, “Tell Airman Larkin his son is dead.” He was told his 2-year-old son David had spinal meningitis and if he hadn’t passed away already, he would very quickly because the survival rate for the disease was so low. It took a week of complex military connections for him to reach Seattle and hear that David had been taken to Children’s and was going to survive. Now in his 40s, David is a Chief with the U.S. Coast Guard reserve and a critical care registered nurse in the Seattle area. Dick expressed thanks saying, “Children’s Hospital has an incredible and well earned reputation of helping, caring, and serving children and families throughout our very large and diversified community.

Interactive website

A new, interactive website tells the story of Children’s first 100 years through videos, photos, stories and milestones. It also includes a calendar of upcoming community celebrations for the hospital anniversary. Learn more about the people and events that shaped the hospital at History.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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