Sugar Land Heritage Foundation Announces 2023 Ornament on Sale

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation is excited to announce the 2023 Holiday Ornament in honor of the Laura Eldridge Hospital.  Keep your collection current with the new 2023 Laura Eldridge Hospital Ornament! The ornaments are $25 each and can be ordered at Shop – Sugar Land Heritage Foundation (  Past ornaments are also available for purchase.

When the company town was first created, Sugar Land did not have its own medical facilities. Initially, the physician assigned to the Imperial Prison Farm, Dr. Gayle Deatherage, would treat Sugar Land residents if needed. In 1917 Dr. Deatherage established an office on the second floor of the Sugar Land Drug Store, and Dr. Blackwell soon joined the practice.

By 1921 Sugar Land was large enough to support medical care for the employees of Imperial Sugar and Sugarland Industries. The Laura Eldridge Hospital Association was established to provide hospitalization and health services.

The location determined for the hospital complex, including separate living quarters for nurses, was the corner of Wood Street and Lakeview Drive. Construction began in 1922 and the hospital was completed in 1923.  It was furnished with the latest technical laboratory and operating equipment and staffed full-time by Drs. Blackwell and Deatherage.  The hospital remained open in this location for 34 years.

Once the hospital opened, Mr. Kempner and Mr. Eldridge instituted an insurance program that funded company medical care. At the cost of $1.50 per month through payroll deduction, each employee could have complete medical coverage for medical and surgical treatment, outpatient services at their doctor’s office, all medication, eyeglasses, artificial limbs and one year of hospital confinement. Worker’s families could receive treatment at a modest additional cost. The doctors also treated non-employee patients at standard fees and performed considerable charity work.

From 1923 to 1970, Miss Nema Sheppard served as the hospital’s chief nurse and manager, running the hospital, including the doctors. In 1925, Dr. Carlos Slaughter joined the practice, serving Sugar Land admirably until his death in 1981.  In 1940, Dr. Harold Kuykendall came to Sugar Land, and he was a partner with Dr. Slaughter in the clinic, which was on Kempner Street.

The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation has been selling an annual ornament since 2018. Proceeds from the sale of the ornaments benefit the Sugar Land Heritage Museum and programs provided by the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation. For more information about SLHF and ornaments, please visit