In an effort to raise funds for the preservation of the theater, we are donating a limited number of signed sketches. Sketches can be ordered at the link below or viewed at Little Bird Mercantile and the Placer County Visitor's Bureau in Auburn, California. The sketches are mounted and matted and ready to slip into a 16x20 frame if you desire. All proceeds will go directly to the "Historic DeWitt Theater Restoration & DeWitt Community Complex".
DeWitt Community Complex is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation on a mission to preserve and adaptively reuse the historic DeWitt Theater for community uses at the DeWitt General Hospital National Register Historic District located in North Auburn, CA. Leveraging the preservation of this historic resource for community uses will help foster an identity as well as develop a community destination and activity hub for the North Auburn area. Re-establishing community uses in this historic building is a win-win: offering an incubator for the arts, supporting the local economy and supporting the County’s master plan vision for a mix of residential and commercial development at the DeWitt Center.
Opening Ceremonies at DeWitt General Hospital
The following information was obtained from Hospital Annual Reports on former DeWitt General Hospital for the years 1943 through 1945. Construction of former DeWitt General Hospital was approved on 25 March 1943, with a tentative completion date set for 15 November 1943. The hospital was activated as Auburn General Hospital on 15 August 1943 per Headquarters, Ninth Service Command General Order 96, dated 12 August 1943. It was designated DeWitt General Hospital per War Department General Order 48, dated 24 August 1943 and confirmed by General Order 122, Headquarters, Ninth Service Command, dated 4 October 1943. DeWitt General Hospital officially opened on 27 February 1944. Its function was "to receive and treat war casualties as well as those from the Zone of Interior posts, camps, and stations."
DeWitt General Hospital Historic Significance DeWitt General Hospital Historic Significance. DeWitt General Hospital was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in February 2016 for its historic significance in all 3 National Register criteria.
DeWitt is architecturally significant as an example of the large-scale planning and construction required to meet WWII national defense needs
DeWitt Hospital is a “Type A” permanent Army General Hospital designed by the notable architecture firm York and Sawyer. The only other mostly intact “Type A” hospital besides DeWitt is Mayo General Hospital in Galesburg, IL that was also constructed in 1943.
Highly regarded surgeon Norman Freeman developed vascular surgery advancements at DeWitt General Hospital during WWII. DeWitt had a nursing training school specializing in psychiatry during WWII. Occupational therapy and physical therapy were other new medical fields developed during WWII.
DeWitt Hospital significantly influenced the Auburn Community economically as the area's largest employer and supported community activities and education. The auditorium held USO dances for patients and the community. The pool offered swim and lifeguard classes and hours open to the public. The theater also had shows open to the public. Notable celebrities who entertained at DeWitt included: Rhonda Fleming, Lon Chaney Jr., Eddie Cantor, Dorothy Lamour, Robert Alda and Joe E. Brown.
Notable psychologist Tarmo Pasto's research at DeWitt contributed to the development of art therapy. Pasto's research also led to the "discovery" of the artwork of Martin Ramirez.
Artist Martin Ramirez created hundreds of his notable works while in residence at DeWitt Hospital. Ramirez's work has been recognized by the American Folk-Art Museum in New York and appeared on US "Forever" postage stamps
Ramirez is also recognized for his contribution to Latino history in California.
DeWitt Community Complex must be saved, save it, you save part of Auburn and Placer County.