Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

Hutzel Hospital

With advances in medicine came a series of Detroit hospitals in the early part of the 20th century.

Among them was the Women's Hospital, which was dedicated on June 18, 1929, almost a year to the date that construction started. It was designed by architect Albert Kahn.

Its cornerstone was placed Oct. 23 1928. Ground was broken on the hospital on June 26, 1928.

In 1964, the building was renamed Hutzel Hospital, in honor of Eleonore Louise Hutzel, a pioneer in social work and health/human services in Detroit. She also was a pioneer in the advancement and acceptance of women within law enforcement, criminal justice and social work.

She was born Sept. 8, 1885, in Ann Arbor, Mich., and came to Detroit in 1910 to study nursing at Harper Hospital and obstetrics at Woman’s Hospital, where she also worked as a visiting nurse. She became interested in social service and, after finishing her nurse’s course, she moved to Chicago where she attended and graduated from what later became the School of Social Services. She would move back to Detroit in 1915, in order to serve as the first director of social services for Woman’s Hospital for unwed mothers and their children. Her interest in the poor and underprivileged led her to join the board of the Girls’ Protective League, which in turn, led to the organization of the first Women’s Division of the Detroit Police Department.

In 1922, she became the first woman to head the Detroit Police Department’s Women’s Division. Six months later, she was appointed fourth deputy commissioner and chief of the Women’s Division. It is worth noting that Hutzel had never set foot in a police station before being put in charge of the 16 officers in the Women’s Division. The division served as a protective agency for all children up to 10 and girls up to 17, and also handled crimes in the city involving women.

In 1939, Hutzel became a trustee of Woman’s Hospital. Twenty-five years later, the Woman’s Hospital Board of Trustees renamed the hospital after her to recognize her achievements.

She died at age 93 on Feb. 14, 1978, and is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor.

Today, the hospital is part of the Detroit Medical Center. It is one of the older surviving hospital buildings in the city.

More on this building coming soon.