While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


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: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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 June 01, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/sbv12.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...