The 1940s at WFUBMC

Buildings Completed:
Gray Building (1941)
West Wing (1942)
Outpatient Department (1946)
1940s Aerial Photographs
Buildings Timeline
Gray Building (1941)


Construction of the original Bowman Gray School of Medicine building reached completion in 1941.  In 1959 the facility would come to be known as Gray Building.

The original medical school building provided 70,465 square feet of space for basic medical sciences, a library, clinical laboratories, animal quarters, a student lounge and administrative offices.

In 1947 the top floor of the building was enclosed.  That is, in this photograph, the very upper right and left corners on the top floor did not at first exist.  

Note that Gray Building was not known as Gray Building until its expansion in 1959.  Gray Building was named after James A. Gray, Jr., brother of Bowman Gray.


This photograph was taken on January 23, 1953, before the Gray Building expansion in 1959.  In 1947 the entire top floor was enclosed (the very upper right and upper left).

The Cornerstone for Bowman Gray School of Medicine was laid on April 16, 1941.

Various items were placed within the stone:

  • Bible
  • Copy of Charter of Wake Forest College
  • History of Wake Forest College Medical School
  • Short sketch of the life of the late Bowman Gray
  • Abstract from the will of the late Bowman Gray, setting up the Bowman Gray Foundation
  • Copy of the letter of transmission of the Bowman Gray Foundation Fund to Wake Forest College
  • Copy of the Operating Agreement adopted by the Board of Trustees of Wake Forest College and the Board of Trustees of the NCBH
  • Copy of deed conveying land for building from hospital to medical school
  • Program of exercises of the Laying of the Cornerstone
  • Copy of Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel for April 16, 1941

The original cornerstone contents were opened up in the late 1950s for the Gray Building expansion, but unfortunately everything was damaged due to poor seals in the stone.

To view the program from the cornerstone laying ceremony click here.



Coy C. Carpenter presided over the cornerstone laying ceremony.

From left to right:

  1. ?
  2. ?
  3. obscured
  4. Wingate M. Johnson
  5. W.C. Davison (Dean of Duke University School of Medicine)
  6. ?
  7. Smith Hagaman (Superintendent of NCBH)
  8. ?
  9. ?
  10. Coy Carpenter
  11. ?
  12. Egbert Davis, Sr.
  13. Odus Mull
  14. ?
  15. ?
  16. ?
  17. Leroy Butler
  18. ?
  19. ?


The Bowman Gray School of Medicine cornerstone laying ceremony.  Mrs. Bess Gray Plumly, sister of the late Bowman Gray, had the honor of laying the stone.

From left to right:

  • James A. Gray, Jr.
  • Smith Hagaman (Superintendent of NCBH)
  • Bess Gray Plumly
  • Governor Melville Broughton
  • Gordon Gray
  • Bowman Gray, Jr.
  • Coy C. Carpenter





Gray Building, before the expansion in 1959 but after 1947 as the top floor (upper left corner) of the building has been enclosed.



Gray Building, after Davis Chapel (1956) but before expansion in 1959.


The entrance to Bowman Gray School of Medicine, before the expansion in 1959.
Gray Building Expansion in 1959


The expansion of the original medical school building in 1959 doubled the square footage of the school, adding 75,490 new square feet of space.  Notice the new entrance.

It was in 1959 that the original school of medicine building took the name of the James A. Gray Memorial Building.  The dedication ceremony was held on October 23, 1959 in honor of James A. Gray, Jr., who passed away in 1952.  James A. Gray was Bowman Gray's brother.  To view documents from the dedication ceremony, click here.

In this undated photograph, the facility adjoining Gray building on the right is the Research Center Building (1961) and vivarium (1964).  Today, the Research Building, Gray Building, and the vivarium are all lumped together and known collectively as Gray Building.


James A. Gray, Jr.


James A. Gray, Jr. (August 21, 1889 - October 29, 1952)

James Alexander Gray was born in Winston-Salem on August 21, 1889.  Upon graduating from UNC in 1908, he began his business career at Wachovia.  After several years at the bank, working up to Vice President and Director, James A. Gray joined the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1920.  In 1934 James A. Gray was elected President of RJR, and held that position for twelve years.  He then became Chairman of the Executive Committee of RJR from 1946-1949 and Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1949, serving until his death in 1952.

James A. Gray was described as a modest and unassuming man.  In addition to his business career, he was also a state senator and an active leader of the Methodist Church.




The new entrance to Bowman Gray School of Medicine after 1959 (Gray Building).
West Wing (1942)


West Wing was a 61,842 square foot, seven story crucial addition to North Carolina Baptist Hospital.  After its completion, the hospital had 300 beds.  The addition was necessary, as space had become so limited, patients were turned away from Baptist Hospital or placed on waiting lists.  The West Wing was also a necessary addition if the medical school was to thrive at its new location.

The West Wing was renovated in 1975 transforming the building into modern medical and surgical inpatient rooms.

This photograph was taken in 1970 during the Reynolds Tower construction.  The building in the center is West Wing while towards the right is South Wing, and to the left is a medical school building.

Outpatient Department (1946)


The Outpatient Department building was a two story, 19,000 square foot facility,  adjacent to both the Nurse's Home and Old Main.  It was demolished in 1978, in conjunction with the demolition of Old Main.  Today Watlington Hall resides on the land once occupied by the OPD.

People who needed medical care but who could not afford it came to the Outpatient Department.  When the new building was finished, each subsequent year hit new record high numbers of patients.  In 1947, 26,691 patients visited the facility.  Patients came from over 88 counties in North Carolina and several states.

The date of this photograph is unknown.  The sign to the left of the door reads: "OUT-PATIENT DEPARTMENT" while the sign to the right of the door reads: "NOTICE / In the event of community disaster this entrance closes to all except authorized personnel /  Injured use emergency driveway rear of hospital / Information center for family, friends and blood-donors located in chapel at front of hospital"

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