I discovered one more postcard view of the original Randolph Hospital building before 1945, and I just had to share it, since the original is one of my favorite Randolph County buildings.
In my first post about the hospital I mentioned the relationship of the old building to the new addition, and last week I took a few pictures of that.
But as I said, the McCrary Wing added in 1951 really changed everything, and the postcard is a good comparison. The monumental stairs were destroyed and the main entrance and lobby was reoriented to the original ground floor level. The crest on top of the original center block was partially re-used, but the most geometric sections of the Art Deco design were not replaced, along with the plaque inset into the front of the steps. This simplification of the original 1920s/Chrysler Building-style Art Deco reflects the refinement of the style into the more streamlined “Art Moderne” of the late 30s and 40s.
But I especially wanted to call your attention to the end of the County Home post where I spoke about the Decline in Pride in Front Yards. Sadly, the hospital now ranks right up there with the worst of them. Even when the 1951 wing was altered the relationship of the building to Fayetteville Street, lowering the entrance and moving it closer to the street, yes, but still the building largely retained its monumental position atop the ridge between Fayetteville and Ward streets. Its ‘front yard’ was landscaped in a park-like setting, with maple trees that framed the building. The front entrance remained the primary entrance, and the semi-circular ambulance driveway along the south end of the building was retained until a new emergency room was built decades later.
Since the 1970s the primary entrance has been hard to find; the McCrary Wing entrance still LOOKED like where to go, but it was locked; the real patient/visitor entrance was hard to find on the North Side, and the western Emergency Room entrance on White Oak Street was adopted as the primary street address but only provided a circuitous route to the patient lobby and cafeteria. The new 2008 entrances to the Cancer Center from Fayetteville Street and the Outpatient Center on the north provide two more monumental entrances to confuse the casual visitor.
It’s interesting that the hospital has now spent about 30 years running away from its original Fayetteville Street entrance, only to end up with a new Fayetteville Street entrance (indeed, there are now 4 major entrances on 3 out of four sides of the hospital’s block of streets). I believe this just goes to show that logical orientation is determined not by the needs of an institution, but by the expectations of the public. Citizens passing by on Fayetteville Street, the de facto main street of Asheboro, expect the hospital to be entered from that street. I am glad that the building is once again responding to public expectations, especially since the hospital additions constitute, along with the 2002 county courthouse, the only Class-A office building design and construction in Asheboro since the 1960s.