The Infirmary was the last of the original campus buildings planned by Bruce & Morgan, of Atlanta. It was completed in the summer of 1896 after Winthrop’s first year at Rock Hill for a total cost of about $5,000. The general contractor, Colonel W. A Neal, Superintendent of the State Penitentiary, used convict labor on the project.
The facility was planned using the most modern concepts in hospital design at the time when modern medicine was gaining a scientific understanding of disease. The role of micro-organisms and the need for cleanliness in clinical practice were just being accepted. Innovative features of the infirmary included a pharmacy, sanitary examining rooms, quarters for resident physician and nurse, adequate ventilation of wards, and a special kitchen with diets for the infirm. The building is remarkably similar in plan to the Johns Hopkins hospital wing completed in 1888.
The main 1896 portion of the building is a symmetrical masonry, rectangular two story structure with a hipped roof. Originally, the roof was slate, but has been replaced with asphalt shingles. Four tall, corbelled chimneys on the front side were for heating and ventilating wards, with a single chimney on the back side for the kitchen.
Over the front entrance, the semi-circular portico with a conical roof is supported by a masonry arcade on the ground floor and had double wood columns on the upper floor. Symmetrical masonry and stone stairs lead to the landing and main entrance with transoms and a semicircular fanlight. On the south side a rectangular porch with an arcaded masonry base and square wood columns on the upper level was built to catch the winter sun. An arcaded masonry walkway connects the infirmary with the first dormitory, Margaret Nance Hall.
Windows are 2/2 sash, with transoms on the second floor. They have plain cast stone sills and lintels, instead of the rusticated granite sills and lintels on the other original campus buildings. The more expensive stone had run out and the college could not postpone construction of the infirmary, with cheap prison labor practical only in the summer.
The interior plan has central halls on each floor with a stairwell near the south end. The arcaded passageway connects to the second floor only. Bedroom wards, on both floors, open on the front (west) side of the hall, with offices, dispensary, physician’s quarters, clinics, baths on the back side. The kitchen and dining room were on the east side of the first floor. Moulded oak door and hall trim, like that in Tillman and Margaret Nance, has been removed during renovations.
In 1912, a north wing with 17 additional bedrooms, designed by Hook & Rogers of Charlotte, was built by the J. A. Jones Construction Co. for $11,600. The wing preserves the symmetry of the building by using a board and batten section to separate the masonry addition. The addition, in scale and details, is exactly like the first section, making it appear to be part of the original construction.
Several exterior alterations were necessitated by deterioration of original wood fabric. The end porch was enclosed with wood, but a continuous bank of 2/2 sash windows were installed for a conservatory effect. Double wood columns on the front porch were replaced with masonry pillars, the square wood rails were replaced with tubular iron, and chimneys were removed from the 1896 building.
Interior renovations to meet modern building codes in 1960-61 include widened doors and refurbished bathrooms. During this work much of the interior wood trim was removed. In 1979 the first floor was converted into offices and the kitchen equipment was removed from the building. The building no longer has wards for infirm students, who are now sent to regional medical facilities. Health and Counseling Services and Career Development are now housed in Crawford, while outpatient clinics for students continues to operate on the second floor.
Crawford Infirmary was aptly named for Dr. Thomas A. Crawford, a Rock Hill physician and original member of Winthrop’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Crawford was one of the most thoroughly educated physicians in the state and had an international reputation. Through his influence the infirmary was built to modern standards, and the college hired a resident woman physician and nurse. During the influenza epidemic of 1917 which killed millions, Winthrop was strictly quarantined for over a month without a single student death. The college always stressed preventive medicine and health care, evidence by David Bancroft Johnson’s semi-annual reports to the Trustees on student health.
Architecturally, the building is significant as an original campus structure and for integration of style and function. It is a much more tasteful building than most ungainly turn-of-the-century hospitals which resemble industrial buildings. The original eclectic design had an overall appearance of an Italian Renaissance country house, with low-hipped roof, arcades, and orientation on a hillside. The view from the infirmary was originally the most pleasant on the campus, across the pastoral, landscaped valley of what was Oakland Park.