Our History

Weiss Memorial Hospital is named after Louis A. Weiss, a successful Chicago businessman who wanted to give back to the neighborhoods in which he flourished.

Born in 1897 and later described as a “quiet giver,” Weiss was more concerned with the tangible benefits of helping people than with attaining personal recognition. His philanthropic focus centered on the neighborhood where he grew up and marked his business successes. When he died in 1949, Weiss left a will that set aside, through the L.A. Weiss Foundation, a generous sum for charity with the specification that the funds benefit Chicago’s North Side.

These bathers had no idea that they were standing on the future site of Weiss Memorial Hospital. The hospital sits on what used to be Clarendon Beach, which was one of the most popular beaches in Chicago.

In 1950, noted political and civic leader Col. Jacob M. Arvey was instrumental in bringing together members of the Weiss family with members of the Strauss Surgical Group, widely known for innovative surgical techniques, particularly in the field of cancer. Three Strauss brothers, physicians Alfred, Herman and Siegfried, co-founded the hospital with the Weiss family. The hospital was intended as a fitting and lasting memorial to the man whose generosity provided the initial seeding gift.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for Weiss Memorial Hospital were held on March 12, 1952 and opened the following year​. 
Weiss Memorial Hospital, shown here under initial construction, was the first nonprofit, general community hospital to be built in Chicago in 25 years.
A standing-room-only crowd of onlookers—including Jewish, Catholic and Protestant leaders—joined a cornerstone ceremony for the new, $3 million Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital in late October 1952. The hospital opened the following summer.
A local newspaper heralded the coming completion of the hospital, named for the late Chicago philanthropist.
(From left) Dr. Herman Strauss, Dr. Alfred A. Strauss, Mr. Barnett Hodes, Mrs. Goldie Dworkin and Dr. Siegfried Straus led the formal dedication of Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital.
(From left) Mrs. Goldie Dworkin (formerly Mrs. Louis A. Weiss), Mr. Barnett Hodes (Board of Governors member), Mr. Richard A. Hirschman (Mr. Weiss’ grandson), Dr. Alfred A. Strauss and Dr. Siegfried Strauss joined together to lay the cornerstone for Weiss Memorial Hospital.
Comedian Jimmy Durante (right), seen here with hospital co-founder, Dr. Alfred A. Strauss, was Weiss Memorial Hospital’s first registered inpatient.
The original Silberman Professional Residence, located behind the hospital, opened in 1964 with 73 apartments. The building now has 13 floors and 156 apartments, some of which house Weiss staff.
A giant, multi-tiered cake helped mark the hospital’s first 15 years of service. Food Service Director Katherine Elman, Dr. Siegfried Strauss (center) and Executive Director and CEO Mortimer Zimmerman cut the first piece.
After three decades of serving the community, Weiss Memorial Hospital supporters celebrated the milestone in 1983. They included (from left) President and CEO Jim Champer, Dr. Jerome M. Silver, Dr. Aaron Schaeffer, and retiring President and CEO Mortimer Zimmerman.
Weiss Memorial Hospital turned 40 in 1993, and a cake-cutting ceremony marked the event. Many longtime Weiss employees attended, including (from left) Mr. Richard Mortimore, a 30-year Weiss employee; Nurse Inge de la Camp, a 38-year Weiss employee; Dr. William Shales, a Weiss physician for 40 years; Dr. Jerome Silver, on staff for 39 years; and President and CEO Dean M. Harrison.

On Aug. 16, 2000, Weiss Memorial Hospital broke ground for a new two-story 45,000-square-foot addition, which includes an expanded Emergency Department, state-of-the-art Intensive Care Unit and a visitor-friendly lobby and entranceway. Pictured (from left): University of Chicago Hospitals President and CEO Ralph Muller, Weiss Chairman of the Board of Governors Michael Rosenberg and Weiss President Edward Cucci joined more than 300 guests and dignitaries to mark the occasion. 

Checking the Weiss Memorial Hospital expansion project progress are (from left): Michael Ruchim, M.D., vice president, academic and medical affairs; Mike Swann, project site manager; Edward Cucci, hospital president; and Gary Amberson, senior executive. The project was completed late 2001.

The Strauss Cancer Center, named after the Strauss family, started more than 30 years ago as a unique entity in a community hospital to promote the research and treatment of cancer care. The Arvey Health Center, a teaching facility at Weiss specifically focused on internal medicine, is named for Col. Jacob M. Arvey.

In 1987, Weiss merged with the University of Chicago Hospitals (now The University of Chicago Medicine), with the belief that the integration of hospitals would produce a highly productive medical establishment for the betterment of health and medical education in Chicago and its surroundings. The union combined the personalized care of a smaller community hospital with the advancements of a major academic medical center, incorporating technology, medical education programs and research, resulting in the highest quality medical treatment available.

A second affiliation agreement in 1992 connected Weiss with the University of Chicago Division of Biological Sciences for the primary purpose of enriching the academic programs at the University of Chicago by increasing the breadth of clinical and academic experience for its medical staff.

In 2002, Vanguard Health Systems and The University of Chicago Medicine formed a joint venture, in which Vanguard had an 80 percent ownership and The University of Chicago Medicine retained a 20 percent stake.
In 2007, Weiss Memorial Hospital created a program called Joint University that gives patients a head start before their surgeries, puts them on the road to successful healing and shorter recovery after their surgeries, and provides a support network extending far into their futures as they move into a vastly improved quality of life. Many of our patients travel from throughout the tri-state area to receive this specialized joint replacement care available only at Weiss.
On January 15, 2009, Weiss Memorial Hospital helped unveil a new privately owned five-story, 166,000-square-feet medical office building in partnership with local physicians and businesses. The new building, Lakeshore Medical Center, is attached to the hospital and both buildings share a lobby. As the largest employer in the neighborhood, Weiss greatly contributes to the local economy. This partnership demonstrates Weiss’ continuing commitment to Chicago’s Uptown community.
In 2009, in an effort to consolidate and further strengthen the range of cancer care services available within our community, Weiss’ cancer specialists and infusion cancer center moved to the third floor of the adjoining Lakeshore Medical Center. The remarkable new facility for the Strauss Cancer Center demonstrates a renewed commitment to providing the best cancer care for our patients.
On September 27, 2010, a team of 27 top surgeons offering a full array of orthopedic specialties at Weiss Memorial Hospital joined together to create the Chicago Center for Orthopedics (CCO). The state-of-the-art approach to the practice of orthopedics meets the needs of the growing number of patients seeking a high level of orthopedic care in Chicago.
On October 18, 2011, Weiss Memorial Hospital opened the new Center for Radiation Oncology, featuring the most cutting-edge radiation technology available. Called a linear accelerator, or linac for short (shown above), this technology makes cancer treatment possible down to the millimeter. A $1 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity helped make this advancement possible.
Working to make a social impact on a diverse neighborhood with a range of healthcare needs, Weiss Memorial Hospital became the first to host a city farmers market and urban rooftop farm in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. The first Uptown Farmers Market at Weiss took place on June 10, 2010. In October 2011, Weiss was honored to receive the Governor’s Home Town Award for its volunteer-run Uptown Farmers Market and Urban Rooftop Farm.

In 2013, Tenet Healthcare Corporation acquired Vanguard Health Systems, Inc., dissolving the joint venture with The University of Chicago Medicine. As part of the Tenet family, Weiss has joined a leading network of hospitals and health care facilities that share the same commitment to providing high quality care to our surrounding communities.