The Legacy of James J. Hurley


James J. Hurley was born in London, England on August 31, 1849. In 1871, at the age of 22, he arrived in New York and then traveled directly to Grand Blanc, MI. By foot, he made it to Flint with one dollar in his pocket. He began working for a livery, earning $10 a month.

jameshurley-4In 1872, he partnered with William H. Fay to help operate the Sherman House hotel on West Kearsley Sreet. In the hotel dining room, he met Mary Flynn – the woman who would become his wife. The hotel was destroyed by fire in 1879, so Hurley bought Flint Soap Works on Grand Traverse St. In 1885, he began operating a wood and coal yard. That same year, the People’s Electric Light and Power Company was founded and Hurley served as its president, along with working as a director of Union Trust and Savings Bank.

James and Mary were both Catholic; but, before his death in April 1905 at the age of 55, he donated money to every church in the city regardless of denomination, in a sum equal to $12,000 in today’s dollars. His funeral was held at Flint’s St. Michael’s Catholic Church. Mary died at the age of 43 in 1900 after a sudden, unspecified illness. The couple had no children.

jameshurley-3Before he died, Hurley had recalled his early days of living in poverty when Mary had struggled through a serious illness. In remembrance, he provided $55,000 and the land on which to build what is now Hurley Medical Center.

Hurley Medical Center opened its doors on December 19, 1908 with one simple mission: to provide a modern hospital for the people of Flint and Genesee County. Hurley’s legacy has remained as Hurley Medical Center has continuously offered people the highest quality of care, regardless of their ability to pay.

1905 James J. Hurley donates land and $55,000 to the of Flint to build a hospital.

1908 Hurley Hospital opens with 40 beds, 6 bassinets and a staff of 8 nurses.

1909 Hurley Hospital Training School of Nurses begins a diploma program.

1911 Flint’s expanding auto industry requires the hospital to increase its capacity. A second story over the west wing is added, including 7 private rooms and 2 five-bed wards.




1912 The first nurses’ home is built. Hurley Nurses Training School graduates its first class of students.
1915 An Isolation Unit is constructed through a gift from Charles Stewart Mott.
1917 A new maternity hospital opens.
1919 With a growing community and increased demand for healthcare, Hurley is expanded to offer 125 beds.
1922 Hurley begins its role as a center for medical education.
1928 The original building is replaced with two 11-story towers, creating space for 432 beds with the most modern diagnostic, surgical and medical equipment available, at a cost of $2 million.


1940 During World War II’s Cadet Corps period, Hurley enrolls 3 nursing classes. The Nurses Training School is renamed The Hurley School of Nursing.
1954 The 11-story northwest (“C”) wing is completed. A new emergency department on the ground level facing Patrick St. at the rear of the hospital is opened the same year.
1973 Hurley Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) opens.
1977 Hurley NICU renovation expands the facility to a Level III status with 44 beds.
1993 The 100th class graduated from the Hurley School of Nursing.
1996 The Hurley Children and Family Health Center opened on Linden Road.
2015 The Hurley-Sumathi Mukkamala Children’s Center opened at the Flint Farmers’ Market.


Sources: The History of Genesee County, Michigan by Edwin O. Wood,

Photos Provided by Hurley Medical Center


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