Sculpture by Glenna Goodacre (Given to The Methodist Hospital in 1989)
In 1923, a group of fifteen young women formed a charitable organization and named it “The Blue Bird Circle.” The first projects undertaken by the Circle were to provide aid to the Young Women’s Cooperative Home and to a day nursery for working mothers.
In 1927, The Blue Bird Circle opened a small gift shop and held rummage sales to fund the Circle’s charitable endeavors.
In 1934 the Arabia Shrine Temple asked the members of The Circle to provide hospital space for crippled children. The “Little Hospital” was built by the Circle at a cost of $7,400 on the grounds of The Methodist Hospital and was deeded to the hospital. The Shriners maintained the building and established a set daily fee for patients, and members of the Circle acted as volunteers.
During World War II, charitable work of the Circle was combined with a myriad of duties related to the war effort. Funds were invested in war bonds, and the Circle’s cooperation with The Red Cross included knitting and weekly bandage rolling meetings. A canteen was organized to offer food and entertainment to servicemen stationed in the area.
In 1949 The Methodist Hospital built a new building providing treatment exclusively to pediatric neurology patients in areas such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities. Deciding to change their focus to helping children with neurological disorders, the Blue Birds moved into the new Hospital in 1952 and assumed the entire $400,000 obligation for the fourth floor. In the early 1970s the Clinic’s location was moved into the Bintliff Blue Bird Building located in the Neurosensory Center at The Methodist Hospital.
On the 50th anniversary of the Circle in 1973, the present Blue Bird Circle Building was dedicated, housing the organization headquarters and The Blue Bird Circle Resale Shop.
Starting as a small gift shop, the Blue Bird Shop had become the main source of funding for the Circle’s charitable endeavors.
In 1986 The Circle established The Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Laboratory located in the Neurosensory Center at The Methodist Hospital. The Lab has attained international recognition in the field of genetic exploration and gene discoveries related to epilepsy.
In the early 1980s, many Rett Syndrome patients were seen in the Clinic. With increasing interest in this disorder, the Circle established The Blue Bird Circle Rett Center and provided funding for scientific and clinical research, which in 1999 resulted in the discovery of the gene that causes Rett Syndrome.
In 1998, the Clinic became affiliated with Texas Children’s Hospital and in 2001 was moved into the new Clinical Care Center at Texas Children’s Hospital, and became The Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology at Texas Children’s Hospital.
A new and innovative venture, The Blue Bird Circle Clinical Research Center was created in 2010. The mission of the Research Center is to bring ever-advancing therapies to bear for our patients. This Center supports cutting-edge research in neurology and enhances the larger effort to build a clinical research support structure that will advance care to the next level and make a difference in the lives of children affected by neurological disorders. It will capitalize on the remarkable scientific discoveries being made in childhood neurologic diseases and will serve as the clinical research arm of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, as well as for The Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Lab and The Blue Bird Circle Rett Center, developing the treatments and cures of tomorrow.
Since it’s formation in 1923, The Blue Bird Circle has earned its special place in the Houston scene. The Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology, The Blue Bird Circle Neurogenetics Laboratory and The Blue Bird Circle Rett Center at Baylor College of Medicine are regarded nationally as preeminent in the field of Neurology.
As apt today as it was on Sunday, July 1, 1934, is a quotation from the speech made by Bishop A. Frank Smith on the occasion of ground breaking for the original Blue Bird Hospital:
“Houston will be a better place to live because the Blue Birds have caught a vision of the spirit of God. At this beginning… there will be set in motion influences that will reach far beyond this community and outlast the life span of all those who are making possible this enterprise.”