Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl

VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER, WACO. The Veterans Administration Medical Center at Waco opened on May 8, 1932, at a 508-acre site five miles south of the city in what became the Beverly Hills community. Its initial capacity was 308 patients. The facility was expanded in 1939 to include bed space for 1,151 patients and again during World War II; its capacity was 2,040 by 1945. It was one of the first Veterans Administration facilities to have an approved residency program and in the 1940s was the only one in the state devoted entirely to the treatment of mental illnesses. It served as a teaching center for professional education in neuropsychiatry, clinical psychology, and psychiatric nursing. The opening of other VA hospitals in the state took some pressure off of the Waco facility. By 1972 the center was able to reduce its available bed space to 1,184. During the 1970s and 1980s the laundry, which served three medical centers, was expanded and renovated; a new warehouse and a dietetics building were added; and the two buildings were renovated. In 1990 the medical center had 684 hospital beds and 160 nursing home beds; 340 additional beds were out of service because of construction projects. The hospital's medical programs included a day treatment center, a mental hygiene clinic, rehabilitation for alcoholics and the blind, and a community residential-care program. The center also had the state's only inpatient post-traumatic stress unit. In the 1990s the hospital expected to complete the renovation of two more medical buildings, an admissions and canteen area, and a new plant to air-condition the entire facility. The buildings are red brick structures featuring clay tile, dressed stonework, and ornate light fixtures of the Mediterranean Revival style. The center was proposed as a national historic site in 1991.

William Robert Poage, McLennan County Before 1980 (Waco: Texian, 1981).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, "VETERANS ADMINISTRATION MEDICAL CENTER, WACO," accessed August 24, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox