Tag Archives: South Georgia Medical History

Gillespie-Selden Institute, Cordele

President’s Home, Circa 1925, Gillespie-Selden Institute

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 Pittsburgh, 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.

Girls Dormitory, 1929, Gillespie-Selden Institute

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.

Administration Building, 1937, Gillespie-Selden Institute

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.

Selden Cottage, 1949, Gillespie-Selden Institute

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

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Filed under --CRISP COUNTY GA--, Cordele GA

Dismuke & Willis Sanitarium, 1914, Ocilla

Dr. Herman Dismuke holding Brenda McCormick, whom he had delivered a year earlier, 27 April 1947

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 made obsolete 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.

Sandra Crouch Irons writes: My grandfather, Thomas A. Crouch, purchased this building to house his wife and family which included 7 children the first of which was born in 1898 and the last in 1911. I’m not exactly sure as to when he purchased the sanitarium, but I do have photographs of my father, Joseph P. Crouch, outside the back porch when he was about 12 which would have made the date around 1923. The sanitarium was never replaced around the 1930s because the Crouch family lived there. I am aware that my grandfather remodeled some of the interior, but the exterior remained basically the same until it was sold somewhere around the late 1980s/early 90s. I lived in and grew up in this house from 1954, when my father retired from the Marines and moved back to Ocilla, until I went to college in 1965. My husband, Stephen Irons, our daughter, Jennifer, and I continued to visit my parents and Aunt Joree who continued to live here until the house was sold.

 

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Filed under --IRWIN COUNTY GA--, Ocilla GA

Dr. Madison Monroe Holland House, 1888, Statesboro

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

 

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Filed under --BULLOCH COUNTY GA--, Statesboro GA

Taylor Memorial Hospital, 1938, Hawkinsville

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.

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Filed under --PULASKI COUNTY GA--, Hawkinsville GA

Alexander Hotel, 1892, Reidsville

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

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Filed under --TATTNALL COUNTY GA--, Reidsville GA

Toomer Medical Office & Boarding House, Fitzgerald

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.

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Fitzgerald GA

Dr. John Middleton Spence House, 1902, Waresboro

Waresboro is the most historic community in Ware County, having served as the county seat before the establishment of Waycross. While looking around the area for sites to photograph yesterday, I met Joe Spence while he was tidying up the yard of this beautiful home. At 81, he has the energy of a man in his 30s and a reverence for the history of this house and community. He’s spent the better part of the past two years stabilizing and restoring it. He notes that it was not “in the family” for 90 years but persistent attempts to buy it from its last owner finally prevailed.

The home’s builder was his ancestor, Dr. John Middleton Spence, who once owned over 16,000 acres of land in the area. Dr. Spence went to Galveston after the hurricane of 1900 to assist in the recovery effort. He was so impressed by one house standing amid the ruins of others, with not a shingle touched, that he set about to locate the builder of that house and when he did he brought him back to Waresboro to build this house.

Please note that this is private property and not available for public tours.

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Filed under --WARE COUNTY GA--, Waresboro GA

Woodhull-Willis-Miller House, 1896, Bainbridge

bainbridge-ga-woodhull-miller-house-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2017

M. V. Woodhull of Monroe, New York, built this as a winter home. Originally a Queen Anne, it was extensively remodeled in the 1940s to its present Colonial appearance.

Jan Godwin writes: I remember [this] as the home of “old” Dr. L.W. Willis, Sr., and his wife, Eugenia “Genie.” It was where they raised their two children, Mary Eugenia Willis Rollins and Dr. L.W. Willis (Bo), Jr., who were both born in the 1920’s. Old Dr. Willis practiced family medicine in Bainbridge for over 50 years until his death in 1972, at a time when only a few doctors were in Bainbridge. The two Willis doctors probably delivered over 75% of the babies born in Decatur County from the 1920’s to about 1980. The house was inherited by Dr. Willis’ daughter, Mary Eugenia Rollins, and his granddaughter…lives there now.

Bainbridge Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--, Bainbridge GA

Student Nurse Dormitory, Fitzgerald

fitzgerald-ga-pueblo-revival-house-photograph-copyright-brian-brown-vanishing-south-georgia-usa-2016

This Pueblo Revival house is located across the street from the site of the former Fitzgerald Hospital. Though a private residence today, it served as a dormitory for student nurses from the 1930s through the early 1960s.

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Fitzgerald GA

Doctor’s Office, 1920s, Lilly

lilly ga early 20th century doctors office photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2016

Blakely Humber and Amy Thompson note that this later served as their grandfather’s (Claude Hugh Murray, d. 1965) barber shop.

Lilly Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --DOOLY COUNTY GA--, Lilly GA