Our history

Children's Wisconsin dates back to 1894. That's when seven women with a shared vision raised enough money to rent a house at 214 Brady St. in Milwaukee and launch a 10-bed Children's Wisconsin. It was the first hospital in the state dedicated solely to children and was founded largely to address the health needs of immigrant children. During its first ten months in operation, the hospital served 23 children. By the end of the second year in operation, the number of patients had more than doubled.

Within five years, the little house on Brady Street no longer could meet the demand for services. Some children had to be turned away. In 1899, the board of directors, now numbering nine, voted to move the hospital to a building at 100 Farwell Ave.

Demand continued to grow and in 1903, plans for a new building on the corner of 10th Street and Wells Street were approved. The Children's Free Hospital, as it was called, had tripled in size in just 10 years and had become a highly valued part of the Milwaukee community.

With staunch support from the community and friends of the hospital, a major campaign raised the necessary funds for a brand new hospital in 1923. The 150-bed hospital opened on donated land at the corner of 17th Street and Wisconsin Avenue. This building is known today as Humphrey Hall at Marquette University.

The hospital moved to its current Wauwatosa location in 1988 where, in time, three towers were added. With the newest West tower addition, the current bed capacity is 306 beds.

Today, Children's Wisconsin is a fully integrated health system dedicated 100 percent to kids and teens, and one of the nation's top pediatric facilities.

Below are some of the milestone events that have contributed to our growth and development as an integrated pediatric health system.

  • 1975 -- Wisconsin Poison Center opens
  • 1978 -- Child Advocacy Center opens
  • 1995 -- First primary care practice joins Children’s
  • 2000 -- Surgicenter of Greater Milwaukee joins Children’s
  • 2000 -- Children’s Specialty Group is created
  • 2004 -- Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin joins Children’s
  • 2004 -- Children’s Research Institute is created
  • 2006 -- Children’s Community Health Plan enrolls first members