Thanks to Haley Perryman for the identification. She notes that it was originally a doctor’s office.
Tag Archives: South Georgia Medical History
The origins of this important landmark of African-American educational history in South Georgia can be traced to Dr. Augustus S. Clark and the St. Paul Presbyterian Church. The first facilities of the school were three wood-framed buildings, built through a gift of the Gillespie family of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1903, and named the Gillespie Normal School in their honor. The first two structures pictured here were built when it was still known as the Gillespie Normal School.
In 1933, the school merged with the Selden Institute in Brunswick and the name was changed to the Gillespie-Selden Institute. Over the years, students came from as far away as New York and New Jersey. The Institute closed in 1956 due to citywide consolidation.
A hospital was built in 1923 and named for its benefactor, Charles Helms. It was a vital part of the institute. (It is still standing but not pictured here; I will add a photograph later). At the time, the nearest hospital for blacks was in Atlanta. Selden Cottage, pictured below, was a school for nurses, associated with the hospital.
This neighborhood, and particularly the remaining facilities of the Institute, represent a significant resource of a progressive African-American community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Preliminary efforts to document and preserve the site have been made, but I’m unsure as to their present status.
Gillespie-Selden Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Ocilla’s first hospital, with 20 beds, was opened by Dr. Herman Dismuke* and Dr. Gabe Willis in 1914. It originally featured wrap-around porches. Jamie Wilcox Lovett and Cindy Griffin note that this was built by their great-grandfather, Robert Toombs Woolsey. It was replaced by a newer facility in the early 1930s and is now a private residence.
*Dr. Dismuke was the most beloved physician in Irwin County during his lifetime. He delivered thousands of babies, promoted modern health and sanitary practices through his work with the clinic at Irwinville Farms during the Great Depression and served as the county doctor.
This was built as a one-story house but was expanded by Dr. Madison Monroe Holland (1860-1914) Holland in 1908 to accommodate his medical practice. Statesboro didn’t have a hospital at the time and the house served that purpose. Holland was one of Statesboro’s first doctors and briefly owned the Statesboro Drug Store, as well.
National Register of Historic Places
This hospital was chartered in 1936. Robert Jenks Taylor gave the city $100,000 for construction of the hospital in memory of his father, Dr. Eziekiel Henry Taylor, and his grandfather, Dr. Robert Newsome Taylor, Hawkinsville’s first physicians. It closed in early 1977 with the completion of a newer facility north of town. After being in a state of disrepair for many years it is presently being restored for use as apartments.
At his wife’s suggestion, Dr. Orlando L. Alexander (1852-1920) built this hotel, where the couple kept a residence, as well. Dr. Alexander was a local physician who received his medical schooling at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He served on a statewide medical conference in 1905. The hotel was built by D. J. Nobles, a master carpenter from Hagan, Georgia, who was responsible for as many as 25 structures in the general area; it was the first location in Tattnall County to have electricity and the first to have telephone service.
National Register of Historic Places
I believe the lower floor of this landmark was once the office of Fitzgerald’s first black physician, Dr. Edward Toomer. The structure has been historically known as a boarding house, primarily for black railroad men. Though other businesses have been located here, its connection to Dr. Toomer is certainly the most significant aspect of its history. Sadly, it was demolished in the spring of 2017.