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Rex Hospital, Raleigh, N.C.

Rex Hospital_1_web

This week on Flashback Friday we showcase a postcard image every Raleigh native will recognize — the venerable Rex Hospital. Although the building no longer functions as such, and has been repurposed as an office facility by the State of North Carolina, the building still reigns proudly overlooking St. Mary’s St.

Rex Hospital_1_back_web

This week’s card was postmarked on March 9, 1950.

Ral. N.C.

Hi Sis
Just a line to say I’m O.K. Hope you are too. Don’t let this news go home but I traded cars again. I have a new oo [?] Mercury. It’s straight. I’m not kidding. I know you will like it. I will tell you more when I have time. How’s [illegible]? You all hurry up and come down here real soon.

Despite his admonition, I wonder if Ralph’s sister maybe did spill the beans to their parents about his trade-up to the Mercury.

As was typical of postcard correspondents of this era, the sender rarely mentioned the image on the card itself; perhaps Ralph sent it to his sister because she worked in a hospital.

Rex Hospital_2_web

This postcard aerial view of a 1940s Rex Hospital shows how large the campus complex was.

Rex Hospital — Healing Raleigh Since 1894

Rex Hospital’s foundation reaches all the way back to 1839 when a Raleigh tanner, John Rex, left a substantial endowment designated for the establishment of a facility “for the sick and afflicted poor belonging to the City of Raleigh.”

Progress was made on realizing the hospital, but, as with many such projects of that era, the economic turmoil of Civil War intervened.

Finally, in 1893, the Rex trustees were able to purchase the antebellum residence of former Gov. Charles Manly, which then stood on South St. at the foot of Salisbury St. Rex Hospital opened in the mansion in 1894. Among other medical advances, the hospital became known for its pioneering use of X-rays and its school of nursing,

Fifteen years later, however, the trustees realized the aging structure was inadequate to accommodate the needs of a modern hospital. Raleigh architect Charles W. Barrett was hired to design a new facility tailored to health care in the 20th century.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

This modern Rex Hospital facility on South St. replaced the aging Manly mansion in 1909. 

As Raleigh grew over the next two decades, so did the needs of Rex Hospital. Again, the trustees made the decision to build anew. This time, however, a site for a new and larger building was chosen outside downtown in favor of one in the suburbs. The location selected was on a hill overlooking St. Mary’s St., just north of the Methodist Orphanage.

H. Colvin Linthicum was selected as the architect, and the imposing, Art Deco inspired Rex Hospital opened in 1937.

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

The photo above shows the new Rex Hospital soon after it opened in 1937; below is the cornerstone laying in 1935. 

State Archives of North Carolina photo

State Archives of North Carolina photo

Rex Hospital became a familiar landmark at the St. Mary’s St. location for more than 40 years.

Courtesy (Raleigh) News & Observer

Courtesy (Raleigh) News & Observer

The 1937 photo above shows Rex Hospital overlooking St. Mary’s St. as seen from the campus of the Methodist Orphanage. Wade Ave. had not yet been cut through.

But, as we all know, time marches on, and Rex eventually outgrew its St. Mary’s St. facility. The hospital relocated to its current site on Blue Ridge Rd. in 1980.

Today Rex Hospital continues to serve the health care needs of the citizens of Raleigh. Nowadays the hospital complex includes the Rex Cancer Center, Cardiac Catherization Laboratory, Wellness Center, Rex Family Birth Center, and Rex Convalescent Care Center.

I gotta say, if you get sick or injured, ya gotta go to Rex!


Our Flashback Friday ‘white border linen’ postcard this week was published locally by the Raleigh News Agency. It was printed by Tichnor Brothers of Boston, under the trade name ‘Tichnor Quality Views.’

Tichnor Brothers, Inc.   (1912-1987) Boston and Cambridge, MA

A major publisher and printer of a wide variety of postcards types. Their view-cards were produced on a national level. Their photochomes went under the trade name Lusterchrome. They also produced an early Tichnor Gloss series in offset lithography that was so heavily retouched they floated somewhere between being artist drawn and being a photograph. The company was sold in 1987 to Paper Majic.

Tichnor Bros logo


“Flashback Friday” is a weekly feature of Goodnight, Raleigh! in which we showcase vintage postcards depicting our historic capital city. We hope you enjoy this week end treat!


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