Marking History: Phoebe Centennial Celebration

Originally founded in 1911 through a gift of $25,000 from Francis Flagg Putney, the Phoebe Health System has grown to serve as the major medical center for Southwest Georgia with multiple campuses and a full range of medical services. When the gift was made, Mr. Putney required three things: that the hospital be built of brick, that it serve anyone regardless of ability to pay, and that it be named for his mother, Phoebe.

Planning for the centennial celebration began five years in advance. The grandest of the events were held on the anniversary date, July 31, 2011. However, much consideration was given to creating lasting markers of the legacy of the hospital and its role in the community. New destinations within the flagship hospital were created to engage and inform patients, family, staff and other visitors. Space was allocated for a museum highlighting the hospital’s history relative to events specific to this community. The museum exhibits change from time to time and are managed by the local history museum. Likewise, the Distinguished Leadership Gallery, a dynamic corridor between two towers of the hospital, is updated annually to recognize volunteers, staff and donors and the community projects they support.


Our centennial anniversary was the perfect opportunity to create permanent architectural features that highlight our history and convey our strong relationship to the community. We were fortunate to have a team of consultants that helped us bring all the various pieces together.” - Lacy Lee, Director of the Phoebe Experience

There were many elements that create a permanent legacy of the centennial anniversary. A time capsule was buried, a commemorative drawing of the campus was commissioned, and a 100-year pictorial history book was published. The second floor of the Distinguished Leadership Gallery was renovated to showcase five cast bronze panels, each highlighting a characteristic of the Phoebe experience. Shown below are the Phoebe Nursing School, also opened in 1922, an image celebrating Phoebe’s commitment to care for all members of the community, and an image of an iron lung used during the era when Southwest Georgia was ravaged by polio. These panels are 30” square. The images were produced using new technologies that allow for the translation of photographic images to a bas relief process, then cast in bronze using the same methods that have been used for centuries.

Heurista creative director, Anne Manner-McLarty, was intimately involved with many aspects of the Phoebe centennial planning and lead the design of the museum, the Distinguished Leadership Gallery and the bronze history panels as a part of the Robin E. Williams Incorporated team. Heurista continues to work with the Phoebe Foundation, providing annual updates to the Distinguished Leadership Gallery and participating in new projects as the health system grows.

Written By Anne Manner-McLarty

Anne Manner-McLarty is the managing editor of the Journal of Donor Relations and Stewardship. She founded Heurista in 2011, a leading resource for consulting specific to donor relations and stewardship, with particular expertise in the donor recognition program design and implementation.