Know your town: Washington’s hospital history

Published 5:52 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

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I’m on vacation this week, so I thought I would share some history from my I’m From Washington NC and Nobody Told Me This Facebook page. So, here’s some little-known history about what was planned at one time for the African American community in this neighborhood.

On this land between Bridge and Van Norden Streets at Eleventh Street where the Boys and Girls Club Facility is today, there were plans to build an African American Hospital. Much of the African American population in Washington in 1953 raised money to buy the land for the hospital to be built on. Mr. George Bailey and Mr. Leon Randolph Jr. spearheaded this effort. It was later decided since Washington had three hospitals, Tayloe Hospital 116-120 North Washington Street between Main and Second Streets, The Fowle Hospital 420 North Market Street on the corner of Fifth Street, and the Beaufort County Home 1200 John Small Avenue, which was actually listed as a hospital, the land would be better used as a playground for children. It was decided there would be a recreation center built on the land in the early 1960’s.

This land was also on the grounds of Fort Washington that many of Washington’s enslaved African Americans built for the Union Army in 1862. Did you know there were African American doctors in Washington as far back as 1900? Did you know Washington also had a hospital that was located across the street where Mac “Bear’ Hodges Festival Park is today? The name of that hospital was The Riverview Hospital at 119 South Bonner at the corner of Water Street.

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.