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Historical Markers Help Reveal Stories of Local African American Pursuit of Quality Healthcare

In 1944, Columbia resident and civil rights activist Modjeska Monteith Simkins was put in charge of raising money for the construction of a new hospital to primarily serve the African American population of the Midlands. While completing this task, she wrote:

“It is our grand privilege and our duty; yours and mine; to help build and equip ourselves with a modern hospital owned and operated by Negroes.”

In the Midlands, before integration, black residents sought medical treatment at one of a few small hospitals. In 1952, the newly constructed Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital opened. The hospital served communities for 21 years; permanently closing in 1973. Recently a small crowd gathered at the site of the hospital, to not only acknowledge and celebrate its history, but also to learn how the historic structure will once again serve African-American and all populations of the state.

Since 1936, the Department of Archives and History have worked with local sponsoring organizations, to produce more than 1500 historical markers across the state. Brad Sauls is with the Department and said with each passing year, more and more of the stories told by new markers are stories of African-American history.

"The markers can go a long way towards bringing attention to stories about our past that have previously not had the attention they deserve."

Sauls said the markers are chronicled stories of the fight for justice and stories of simply trying to make the

These are stories, that today in 2019, should trouble us but also inspire us.

best life possible in an unjust world. 

"These are stories, that today in 2019, should trouble us but also inspire us. The story of Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital is one of a community fighting and working together against countless obstacles to improve acess to quality healthcare."

A Look To The Future

Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital closed in 1973, was purchased by Allen University in 1987 and in 2008 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the Fall of 2020, the site could onc again be opened to the public, offering serveral types of services.

"I would want to extend an early invitiation for you to return in 18 months for a ribbon cutting."

Before the hsitorical marker was unveiled, Allen University President Dr. Earnest McNealy, said in 18 months they hope the building will be operational again. The four-year, private Liberal arts Historicaly Black College has embarked on a $10 million dollar renovaton of the hospital, which will include an annex to honor the nine victims of the 2015 Mother Emanuel Massacre.

Plans for a newly-renovated Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital
Credit Allen University /
Plans for a newly-renovated Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital

McNealy said the building will include a "Waverly Wall," to serve as a museum that will depict a history of activities that were once in the building. He added, the buidling will also offer the state and country much more.

Listen: GSWH is on the National Register of Historic Places, there is also an historical marker at the site- what happens next?