Good Samaritan Hospital
By Brandon Lunsford

Good Samaritan Hospital was the first private hospital in North Carolina built exclusively for the treatment of Charlotte’s black citizens, and is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States. Located in Charlotte’s Third Ward neighborhood between Mint and Graham streets, it was built in 1891 with funds raised by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and its parishioners. The church had already started St. Peter’s Hospital on nearby Seventh Street as the first civilian hospital in North Carolina, and in the 1880s plans were laid for a mission chapel and care facility for the city’s black population. The original building was built to house only twenty patients, but in 1925 a major addition was funded by the Duke Foundation and matched by the Colored Sunday School Union that more than doubled the size of the hospital.

In 1937 another wing was added, making the facility a one hundred-bed hospital staffed by doctors and nurses, many of whom were black. In 1903, a School of Nursing was established in the hospital to train black women, and graduated hundreds of young nurses over the next fifty years.

On July 17, 1911 a major train wreck near Hamlet, N.C. brought 83 black patients to the hospital, as it was still the only institution in the state that ministered to blacks. All the physicians in the city joined in attending the wounded and only three of them died, and the incident lent much needed prestige to the institution even among white citizens. On August 26, 1913 the hospital was the unfortunate scene of one of the most horrific racial incidents in the city’s history, and the only recorded lynching in Charlotte. A mob of about thirty-five armed men stormed the hospital and captured a black man named Joe McNeely, who was arrested five days earlier for the shooting of Charlotte policeman L.L. Wilson. McNeely, who was also shot and recovering at Good Samaritan, was dragged out into the street by the angry mob, shot and mortally wounded. No one was ever convicted for McNeely’s death, and the crime remains an ugly mark on Charlotte’s history.


Courtesy of the Mary Boyer Postcard Collection at UNCC Special Collections.

“Good Sam,” as it was lovingly nicknamed by its staff and patients, was administered by a board of women from St. Peter’s until 1947, when an Executive Board composed of two persons from each local Episcopal parish church was organized. By the early 1950s, the church found it increasingly difficult to support a modern hospital, and in 1961 ownership of Good Samaritan was formally passed to the city and Charlotte Memorial Hospital. Another new addition was built facing Graham Street, and its name was changed to Charlotte Community Hospital.

It closed as a hospital in 1982, was renovated again, and soon became the Magnolias Rest Home. In 1996, the historic hospital and the homes nearby were torn down to make way for Ericsson Stadium, today known as Bank of America Stadium and home to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The hospital existed roughly near the forty-yard line of the field, and a historical marker acknowledging the site was erected outside the stadium in 2002. The chapel of the hospital was saved, and was recently displayed by the Levine Museum of the New South. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Heritage Committee and Charlotte Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Society also sponsored a travelling exhibit through the Levine called No Roadmap: Integrating the Charlotte Medical Community 1951-1965 in which the hospital played a starring role.


Sources:

Vertical Files, Carolina Room of the Public Library, Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission Survey and Research Reports. http://www.cmhpf.org/

Rann, Emery L., “The Good Samaritan Hospital of Charlotte, North Carolina” Journal of the National Medical Association 56 no. 3 (May 1964): 223-226.

David, Maria. “Black History Month: Charlotte’s Good Samaritan Hospital.” Retro Charlotte blog, 2015. http://retroclt.blogspot.com/2015/02/black-history-month-charlottes-good.html

Good Samaritan Hospital