The first children’s hospital in the area was the Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital, which opened on March 21, 1918, under the leadership of Ida L. Turner, a former postmistress. The hospital was first located at 2400 Winton Terrace West, near the present campus of Texas Christian University. Eventually, the hospital was renamed Fort Worth Children’s Hospital.
In 1961, under the leadership of Nenetta Burton Carter and the Woman’s Board of the Fort Worth Children’s Hospital, a new facility was completed at 1400 Cooper St., adjacent to Harris Methodist Hospital. In 1985, it merged with what was then Cook Children’s Hospital.
In 1929, W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital opened at 1212 W. Lancaster Ave. after Missouri Matilda Nail Cook dedicated oil royalties from the Cook Ranch near Albany, Texas, to build and sustain the hospital’s mission. In 1952, the board of trustees voted to expand the facility, changed its mission to care exclusively for children and renamed it Cook Children’s Hospital. In 1985, it merged with Fort Worth Children’s Hospital.
In 1980, under the leadership of I. Jon Brumley, the two hospitals formed the Children’s Hospitals Coordinating Board and began negotiations to merge their facilities.
In April 1982, the coordinating board hired Russell K. Tolman to administer the hospitals jointly and plan for their ultimate combination.
On April 29, 1985, Robert M. Bass was elected the founding chairman, with John M. Stevenson as vice chairman, R. Denny Alexander as treasurer and M. Ward Bailey as secretary of the combined hospital.
Construction on the new 183-bed Cook Fort Worth Children’s Medical Center started in 1987 and was completed in May 1989. The name was eventually shortened to Cook Children’s Medical Center.
As the 21st century began, Cook Children’s added more than $100 million in new facilities. In 2003, a $53 million addition brought a four-floor patient pavilion and critical care areas to the medical center and increased beds to 282. Continued construction added more heart center catheterization and heart surgery facilities to the medical center in 2005.
In August 2007, Rick W. Merrill became the president and CEO, succeeding Tolman, who retired after 25 years.
The Dodson Specialty Clinics building opened in 2012; Merrill called it “not only second to none, but almost one of a kind in the country.”
The 314,000-square-foot South Tower, with six floors plus a basement, opened in 2017 with a modernized Emergency Department and lab, larger operating rooms with the latest technology, a new Heart Center and Behavioral Health Center.