Good Samaritan Hospital: Paving the way for progress
May 26, 2020
In 1887, local philanthropist Jane Renwick Smedberg Wilkes (1827-1913) enabled the Right Reverend Joseph Blount Cheshire (1850-1932), a representative of the North Carolina Episcopal Diocese, to purchase a plot of land at 411 W. Hill Street for the construction of a black hospital. On December 18, 1888 the first cornerstone of Good Samaritan Hospital was laid in a ceremony attended by both black and white Charlotte residents. Construction of the hospital finished in 1891 and, on September 23 of the same year, the hospital opened for business. Good Samaritan Hospital was the first privately funded black hospital in North Carolina.
Fundraising for this hospital was largely left to local black churches and community leaders like Mrs. Wilkes, who worked tirelessly on behalf of the hospital. She wrote to every Episcopal diocese in the country, as well as to many of her friends and family members who lived in New York, her home state. She sent so many bequests for financial support that one of her brothers asked her to cease. Intense fundraising efforts by black churches, Mrs. Wilkes, James Buchanan Duke (1856-1925) and W.R. Bier led to the construction of a modern addition that doubled the size of the hospital in 1925.