Oak City Hustle
The Ghost of Jack Johnson & The Crumbling of St. Agnes Hospital

OakCity Hustle

Joe Bruno

The Ghost of Jack Johnson & The Crumbling of St. Agnes Hospital

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.

jack-johnson-boxerOn 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.

St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_57St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_16St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_29St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_54St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_15St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_39St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_37St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_19 St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_21St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_40 St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_18 St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_49St Agnus Hospital Raleigh Oak City Hustle_352655849284_63418ab84d_z 2655849716_a26183cbb3_z2655023989_c308fce305_z  2655849440_e4ca01caee_z2655023937_9860e87cf5_z 2655849622_8c936b1e4c_z 2655023817_8444b1c045_z

Photos: Joe Bruno
Historical Photos: State Archives of NC
Words: Seano


Sean Kernick

Sean brings a mix of social consciousness, inspiration and creative connection to his life as a family man, artist, social organizer, producer, creative director and co-founder. “Family, friendship, and artwork are the pillars that keep my foundation secure. I am always looking to expand and explore all forms of artistic expression.”


Skip to toolbar