Located on a sleepy corner of St. Augustine’s College campus on State Street and Oakwood Avenue, the crumbling ruins of St. Agnes Hospital rest quietly. This Raleigh Historical Landmark served as the largest hospital for blacks between Atlanta and Washington during the early 1900’s. It opened its doors in 1896 and served primarily as an African American nurse training center with hospital facilities. A fire brought the building to its knees in 1904. The students organized and under the direction of Reverend Henry Beard Delany to rebuild the school themselves, quarrying and laying the stone that makes up the current structure that we see today.
On June 10, 1946 Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, was refused service at a diner in Franklinton, NC. As he left the diner he lost control of his car and crashed causing life threatening injuries. He was brought to St. Agnes Hospital as it was the closest hospital that would serve blacks in the vicinity. It was here that he died from his injuries at 68 years of age. The technology existed to save his life however it wasn’t available at St. Agnus. It was available at the whites-only Rex Hospital a few miles away.
There has been word that new investment would be made to resurrect this landmark and breath new life as a Rex operated graduate program facility for St. Augustines. The initial plans mentioned it was slated to reopen in 2014 but by the looks of these photos that is not happening anytime soon. This beautiful structure rests proud and silent on the corner of State Street and Oakwood, housing the energy of countless lives, memories and struggles which is palpable to this day.