This site was chosen for a military hospital by the Surgeon General after a lobbying effort by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and Congressman Englebright. The major selling factors: Above the fog and below the snow, access to railroad transportation, and geographic location near Sacramento and northwestern US military bases.
A massive 50’ flagpole stood directly in front of the Administration building and the official Open House and Flag Raising Ceremony took place on February 27, 1944 with 4,000 people in attendance. By then, they had already received the first two patients.
When the military hospital opened, it had a 1,727 bed capacity. During this time, a population of over 3,000 individuals lived on the site. This included US Army officers, military medical personnel, and enlisted servicemen and women including of the Women's Army Corps. When it later became a State Hospital in 1946, the same patient wards, barracks, and facilities continued to be used for 26 more years.
The hospital was named after Brigadier General Calvin DeWitt who was a Civil War veteran and moved up through the ranks as a medical officer. It is interesting to note that his first son Wallace DeWitt, had a hospital in Fort Belvoir, Florida named after him, making two DeWitt Army Hospitals named after the same DeWitt family.