William H. Coleman Hospital

Written by on March 31, 2014 in Historic Miscellania - 5 Comments
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Photo: Ryan Hamlett

William H. Coleman Hospital Photo: Ryan Hamlett

Coleman Hospital
Location: I.U.P.U.I Campus
Named For: William Henry Coleman
In 1927, William H. Coleman endowed the hospital for women, in memory of his step-daughter who died from pregnancy complications. Coleman was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in New York.  He moved to Indianapolis in 1880, where he started a booming lumber business that grew to have additional operations in Terre Haute and Tennessee as well, even making barrels for the Standard Oil Company.
Image curtesy of the IUPUI archive.

Image courtesy of the IUPUI archive.

Coleman married Sallie Downing Vajen, who had a daughter, Suemma, from her previous marriage to John Henry Vajen III, who died when Suemma was an infant.  Suemma’s grandfather was Michael A. Downing, who served as Indianapolis’ police commissioner and park commissioner.
Suemma was married to William Avery Atkins and became pregnant in 1923.  She and her child on died on April 24, 1924.  After her death, the Colemans donated money to Indiana University to build a maternity hospital, which was dedicated in 1927.
To learn more about the Vajen family, check out these HI articles:
In addition, HI has also featured the Atkins family in many articles:
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About the Author

Steve Campbell is the former Deputy Mayor of Indiianapolis, owns a communications strategy consulting firm, and teaches journalism and mass communications at the IUPUI School of Journalism.

5 Comments on "William H. Coleman Hospital"

  1. Kevin J. Brewer March 31, 2014 at 6:40 am · Reply

    I remember the William H. Coleman Hospital from when I was in the Science Scholars program at the IU Med Center while I was in high school at Tech (1968-1972).

    Is the hospital still standing and, if so, what is its current function?

  2. Lynne Sargent Helm March 31, 2014 at 8:56 am · Reply

    Hi Steve. Thanks for posting. As a sequel, I’d suggest you continue this fascinating story with a report on the home for unwed mothers that evolved and continues to operate.

    I do have one question. Was Coleman sometimes referred to as “City Hospital”?:

    Again, thanks for your report.


  3. Diane Roberts Joslin March 31, 2014 at 9:11 am · Reply

    Thank you for this interesting article – I was born in this hospital in 1946.

  4. David Dunn October 9, 2015 at 12:16 am · Reply

    I was born in Coleman Hospital on September 28, 1941. When was the original hospital torn down and what replaced it?

    • Sharon Butsch Freeland October 9, 2015 at 12:57 pm · Reply

      Hi, David,
      Coleman Hospital for Women was located at 1140 West Michigan Street. The building is still standing, but it is no longer a hospital. It is surrounded by IU Medical School and IUPUI buildings. You can read more about Coleman Hospital here: http://www.iupui.edu/~history/OLDSITE/trail/2.htm.
      Sharon Butsch Freeland

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