Roanoke, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Health Care and Medicine
Segregation in the early 20th century kept black doctors and nurses from working in the white hospitals of Roanoke, and black citizens were denied treatment in these facilities.
By 1914, a committee of doctors led by Isaac Burrell and including J.B. Claytor Sr., J.S. Cooper, S.F. Williman, L.C. Downing, and J.H. Roberts was working to establish a hospital to serve the region's black residents. Later that year, Dr. Burrell became gravely ill, but was denied medical service in Roanoke's white hospital. Burrell had to travel to Washington, DC, for treatment; he made the trip on a cot in the baggage car of a train, but died following surgery. The remaining doctors purchased a building at 311 Henry Street and renovated it to meet hospital standards. Named in memory of their colleague, Burrell Memorial Hospital opened in 1915, with ten beds and modern equipment in a minor and major operating room. Soon growing too large for the building, the hospital relocated to the former Allegheny Institute on McDowell Avenue in 1921. A new four-story facility was built in the 1950s; the building remains, but no longer serves as a hospital.
In 1913, the first black dentist in the city, Dr. Edward R. Dudley, located his office on Gilmer Avenue. His talents were not limited to dentistry. He served as a probation officer and helped organize the Magic City Building and Loan Association, the first black savings institution in the area.
In 1907, Dr. John B. Claytor Sr. established his medical practice on Gainsboro Road. He influenced medical care and community life in Roanoke for over forty years. In 1947, he and his family built the Claytor Memorial Clinic in honor of his deceased wife, Roberta, who wanted her husband and sons to practice together. The Clinic was one of the earliest group practices in Roanoke, with several Claytor family members working there. The building still stands, but was damaged by fire in 1995.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Science & Medicine.
Location. 37° 16.535′ N, 79° 56.377′ W. Marker is in Roanoke, Virginia. Marker is on Wells Avenue Northeast east of North Jefferson Street, on the left when traveling east. Marker is located in a small sidewalk plaza on the north side of Wells Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Roanoke VA 24016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil Rights Trailblazers (here, next to this marker); Milestones in EducationFrom Frontier to Urban Community... A Gainsboro Prelude (here, next to this marker); Evolution of a Neighborhood Name (here, next to this marker); Social and Cultural Life (here, next to this marker); A Once-Vibrant African American Community (here, next to this marker); The Influence of Churches in Gainsboro (a few steps from this marker); Hotel Roanoke (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Roanoke.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Gainesborough • Big Lick • Roanoke
Also see . . . Burrell Memorial Hospital (Wikipedia). Burrell Memorial Hospital housed the only African-American medical facility in Roanoke from 1915 to 1965, when the Civil Rights Act mandated the desegregation of hospitals. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, today the building is known as The Burrell Center, and houses adult service programs. (Submitted on November 30, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 27, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 97 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on November 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 30, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.