Editor's note: This is the 82nd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
HUNTINGTON - A surgeon by training, Dr. Henry D. Hatfield (1875-1962) not only practiced medicine, he also practiced politics. In 1906, he was elected to the McDowell County Court (the local governing body, a precursor to today's county commission). Elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1909, he served as Senate president in 1911.
In 1912, at age 37, Hatfield was elected governor, to that date the state's youngest governor ever. After his four-year term as governor ended in 1917, he briefly served as a military doctor, then moved to Huntington and established a medical partnership with Dr. Archibald Kessler.
Keller had opened a small hospital at 4th Avenue and 5th Street in 1904, then sold it and in 1911 built a new, much larger hospital at 6th Avenue and 1st Street. Once the partnership was forged between the two doctors, the Kessler Hospital became the Kessler-Hatfield Hospital. It was renamed Huntington Memorial Hospital in 1928.
That same year saw Hatfield return to politics when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was defeated in a bid for reelection in 1934, and after leaving the Senate re-established his medical practice in Huntington.
In his "A History of the Cabell County Medical Society in West Virgnia, 1890-1985," Dr. Charles H. Moffat, the respected Marshall University history professor, wrote that during its most successful period Memorial Hospital included a nursing school and a cancer center and was affiliated with three leading Washington, D.C., hospitals.
Kessler died in 1944. In the late 1950s, Memorial Hospital was beset by financial difficulties. It closed its doors in 1958. In 1959, the federal government moved in and sold the defunct hospital's equipment to satisfy tax claims. The following year the building was sold at public auction. Later it was demolished and a shopping center, anchored by a Big Bear supermarket, was built on the property.
To read more articles from this series, go to www.herald-dispatch.com. Click on "News," then "Lost Huntington" series.