This 1949 photograph of Carver Memorial Hospital on West Ninth Street recalls an era when health care facilities in Chattanooga were still segregated by race.
The hospital, named after Black scientist and inventor Dr. George Washington Carver, served the Black community here for 15 years starting in 1947, an era when Black doctors were not allowed to follow their patients to nearby Erlanger Hospital due to segregation policies.
The caption to the photo, which is part of the Chattanooga Free Press collection at ChattanoogaHistory.com, has been lost; and, with it, the identity of the man and woman pictured.
The photo was from a collection of negatives donated by the newspaper to the Chattanooga History Center.
"Plastic-based film has a limited lifespan — even when stored in ideal conditions," said ChattanoogaHistory.com curator Sam Hall, noting the deterioration visible in the photo. "This underscores the importance of digitizing negatives before they are lost."
ChattanoogaHistory.com features vintage photos of the local area and is designed to preserve the images through digitization.
According to a 2015 local history column published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press by Phoebe Pollitt, a public health nurse in Watauga County, North Carolina, for more than 20 years, the Carver Memorial Hospital was originally the 50-bed West Ellis Hospital (for whites), which was renovated and repurposed for the Black community.
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available.
If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives, or original non‐digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
Black physicians did not gain access to Erlanger hospital until the 1960s, the column notes.
"When Carver Memorial Hospital opened in June 1947, it was fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons and the National Hospital Association," Pollitt wrote. "It had an operating room, laboratory, X-ray facilities and a maternity and nursery suite. There were 45 adult beds, five pediatric beds and 11 bassinets."
There were also 18 physicians and 11 registered nurses on staff, the column notes.
Pollitt said Carver Memorial Hospital was torn down in 1962 as part of an urban renewal push by the city of Chattanooga. Erlanger Hospital began building a wing for black patients in 1961, but the 1964 Civil Rights Act resulted in widespread hospital integrations before the wing was completed, Pollitt notes.
Last week's 1958 "mystery photo" of a Chattanooga-area restaurant generated lots of reader feedback. The caption to the photo has been lost, but readers attempted to identify the restaurant based on several visual clues — including a set of steer horns hung behind the cash register. There was also a wall clock made from a cast iron skillet.
Three readers said they have clear memories of a McCallie Avenue restaurant called The Texan that they believe to be the business in the photo.
"Your most recent photo is from The Texan Restaurant located near 1090 McCallie Avenue, across the street from Warner Park," one reader wrote. "Today, it would be located across the parking lot from the Montessori School."
Indeed, an advertisement from the Chattanooga Daily Times in the era contains a line drawing of The Texan, and the address is listed as 1090 McCallie Ave.
Another reader remembered spending time there as a young girl.
"When I was a sixth-grader at Missionary Ridge School, my girlfriend lived with her grandparents who owned [The Texan] restaurant," she wrote. "Many Friday nights I would spend the night with my friend and we would go to the restaurant with her family for the evening. We would get candy from the checkout counter and visit with the patrons."
Other old restaurants guessed by multiple readers were the Town and Country Restaurant in North Chattanooga, The TickTock Restaurant in East Ridge, the Long Horn Restaurant on Market Street and the Ranch House on Broad Street.
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Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.