The Complex History of Campbell Hall

By on October 23, 2012

Nursing students from Hotel Dieu pictured in the Flowsheet, 1960s

What is now called Campbell Hall was once a three story pink brick building built in 1967 by the Daughters of Charity Saint Vincient de Paul. The Daughters used the building for a classroom and dormitory for the female nursing students enrolled in the Hotel Dieu School of Nursing. The Daughters and the nursing students practiced at the Hotel Dieu, “House of God,” the hospital built and run by the nuns. The nuns founded the hospital in 1892, shortly after they arrived in El Paso, to aid the many sick residents who traveled by train to the city in hopes that the warm arid climate would aid in their recovery. The hospital, the care of the nuns, and the nursing students would become renowned. It was at Hotel Dieu that the first appendectomy in the southwest took place, where Texas Ranger Capt. John R. Hughes was hospitalized after being shot, and where the first school of nursing in El Paso was conceived.  The Hotel Dieu was demolished in 2003 after being unused for several years; the vacant lot where the hospital once stood remains at 1014 N. Stanton Street.

Nursing student Shannon Roach on the cover of Nova, 1971

 In 1897, Sister Olympia organized the first three-year nursing education program in Texas — The Hotel Dieu School of Nursing. As the city grew so did the hospital and the need for trained nurses; in 1967 the nuns built the building on Campbell Street to facilitate their nursing students and school. Though enrolled in the Hotel Dieu School of Nursing (HDSN) many of the students took classes at the University and many of the University faculty also taught at HDSU. When the nuns’ hospital began to fail due to the increase of for-profit hospitals, it seemed to be a natural acquisition for UTEP to take over HDSN which became the UT School of Nursing at El Paso in 1970; UT took over the physical building in 1971. The Building on Campbell Street reflected the name. The nuns moved into “a reasonably priced apartment house on Arizona and Campbell.” The building on Campbell continued to facilitate the nursing student dorms and education classrooms until the 1990s. In fact, for many years the building only contained women’s restrooms, men’s restrooms were not added for many years. The basement consisted of the cafeteria and library. The first floor once housed the Dean of the School of Nursing as well as what was called the Fountain Room, where female nursing students were met by their suitors for dates. Floors two through seven consisted of dorm rooms, classrooms and hospital simulator rooms.

Nursing students, Dzong-La, 1986

Today the building–now called Campbell Hall–no longer houses students but continues to facilitate nursing and health sciences. The basement contains the Occupational Therapy (OT) Modality Lab, a Neurology Lab, an OT Motor Lab, an Anatomy Lab (the cadaver lab), and shower rooms for the students. The first floor, remodeled in the 1990’s, maintains Research Clinic Offices, an Independent Learning Lab, the Speech Clinic, classroom space, and will soon house a Virtual Reality Lab. The remaining floors house classrooms and offices for OT, Physical Therapy (PT), Pharmacology, and Speech; the offices reflect their origins as living quarters with attached bathrooms and walk-in closets. In October 2012, UTEP announced the completion of a $2.3 million renovation project which included renovations and upgrades to the Speech, Hearing and Language Clinic, Research and Concussion Management Clinic, Independent Learning Center, Interdisciplinary Teaching and Research Clinic, Clinical Teaching Laboratories, Virtual Reality and Motor Control Research Laboratory, Campbell Commons, Simulated Rehabilitation Teaching Hospital, Gait Training Teaching Laboratory, Activities of Daily Living Teaching Laboratory, Distance Learning Classroom, and Changing Facilities.

[Sources: Betty Phillips, “Hotel Dieu-El Paso’s First Hospital,” Grave Concerns, (June 2012); Jeannette Smith, “A New Rx for Nursing,” Nova, (May-July 1971); Laura Cruz, “Celebrating 30 Years: School of Nursing at forefront of field,” Nova, (Winter, 2006); Trisha Long, “1950: Old Hotel Dieu Registry Recalls early EP History” and “1973: Sisters of Daughters of Charity Buy Apartment,” El Paso Times, Tales from the Morgue, (05/18/2012) and (06/06/2012).]

Ashley Swarthout was a student in the Masters of Arts in Teaching English program at UTEP. She graduated in May 2013 and is now teaches dual credit at Chapin High School.