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Booker T. Washington Memorial Hospital (Part 3 of 3: Saving Black Lives in Pittsburgh)

First, I appreciate your patience with the lengthy delay. Life sometimes gets in the way of a good story! As always, this is my own, original, research.

Before implementing the Livingstone Memorial Hospital, African Americans across Pittsburgh rallied to make the Booker T. Washington Hospital a reality. Named for famed orator and educator Booker Taliaferro Washington, the hospital started as an association much like its successor.  The decision to name the hospital after Washington was perhaps inspired by his visit to Pittsburgh. On October 27, 1907, Washington spoke at both Emory Methodist Episcopal Church on North Highland Avenue in East Liberty (which an estimated 3,000 people attended) and at the Sewickley Auditorium in Sewickley, PA, giving a rousing speech entitled “The Success of Negro Education. [1][2][3]


Later, in 1907, renowned attorney William Henry Stanton, the 4th African American admitted to the bar in Allegheny County, filed an application for the Booker T. Washington Hospital Association. Perhaps Stanton was present when Washington spoke since he lived just around the corner on Maryland Avenue in the neighborhood of Shadyside. The application text called for “the establishment and maintenance of a hospital for the medical and surgical treatment and nursing of the sick and disabled, and conducting a school for the training of nurses…”[4].  The incorporators were listed as Frances S. Tanner, Nannie Byers, Mamie Frazier, Bertha Howard, Jennie Page, Mary Roberts, Carlton M. Tanner, Nellie Taylor, Lizzie Prior, Elsie Jones, Marlon Ellison, Lissie Washington, D.S. Bentley, Hattie Frazier, Charles H. Carroll (who would later be the president of Livingstone Memorial Hospital), James F. Allen, and Jennie Watson, and Eliza W. Jones. Charles H. Carroll was elected as the Chief of Staff[5].



Of the decision to establish a nurse training school, W.H. Stanton commented,

“It is a well-known fact that colored women are natural-born nurses.  It is also well known that a number of colored people are admitted to the various hospitals in this city and are attended by trained white nurses.  We have no fault whatever to find the treatment accorded the patients, but we feel that this city is equally as able to support an institution of this character as Philadelphia, which has two, and Baltimore and Washington, which each have one institution. As soon as we are able to get the institution started, we will have a number of young colored women placed In training, and they will be given all the opportunities to acquire efficiency. The people identified with the association are among the best class of colored people in this city, Mrs. Tanner being a sister-in-law of the celebrated colored artist of that name[6].


Work began immediately to raise funds for the hospital through events such as calico balls and outings at Kennywood Park. In 1908, the association purchased a building from Hill District proprietor Charles C. Shad at 2225 LaPlace Street, formerly serving the Home for Aged and Infirmed Colored Women[7]. Remodeling costs were estimated at $7,000, thus continuing the arduous task of continuing to raise money. In 1909, the hospital received an appropriation of $10,000 from the State of Pennsylvania[8].  The hospital officially opened its doors on May 13, 1909, with the address listed as 226 LaPlace Street, and it was said to contain five wards[9].


However, by 1910, the hospital seemed to have financial troubles and moved from LaPlace Street to 3519 Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville[10]. Due to the need to remodel, the hospital was slated to open on November 1st of that year. It is unclear if this happened. The board of directors would not meet to discuss a permanent location again for three years[11].

Booker T. Washington, the hospital’s namesake, died on November 14, 1915. Following his death, the hospital association became the Booker T. Washington Memorial Hospital Association


(Top: 3519 Penn Avenue in 1910. Bottom: 3519 Penn Avenue today)

In 1922, the association proposed purchasing the Pittsburgh Italian Hospital location at 541 Paulson Avenue in the Larimer neighborhood of Pittsburgh. A campaign was organized to raise $35,000 to buy the property[12][13]. In addition to raising funds for the new hospital, the hospital association also planned health campaigns “designed to better the health and living conditions of Negroes in Allegheny County.[14]” I have been unable to find any record of the outcome or the attempt to purchase the Pittsburgh Italian Hospital, but it can be assumed that it did not occur. The Pittsburgh Italian Hospital became Belvedere General Hospital later in 1922[15].  


According to the Negro Yearbook, published by Tuskegee University, the Booker T. Washington Hospital Association was still in business until 1926, as it was listed in year book’s directory[16].  However, by 1931, the Booker T. Washington Memorial Hospital ceased to exist. However, the Booker T. Washington Memorial Hospital’s attempt to ensure that African Americans in Pittsburgh had adequate health care and a place to train if they wanted to enter the medical world should not be dismissed from a place in our history.  Neither should the stories of Avery Medical College and the Livingstone Memorial Hospital. These were marked efforts made by Pittsburgh’s African American communities to combat the health inequalities faced by the city’s Black citizens. Though these hospitals struggled and were lived, we should be aware that these attempts forced the hands of other hospitals in the area to admit Black patients, nurses, and doctors.


[1] “Great Crowd Hears Famous Negro Speak,” The Pittsburgh Post, October 28, 1907.

[2] “Booker Washington Speaks,” The Pittsburgh Post, October 27, 1907.

[3] “Religious and Charitable,” The Pittsburgh Press, October 28, 1907.

[4] “Legal Notices,” The Pittsburgh Press, December 17, 1907.

[5] “Colored Girls To Be Trained,” The Pittsburgh Press, December 17, 1907.

[6] “Colored Girls To Be Trained.”

[7] “Afro American Notes,” The Pittsburgh Press, October 18, 1908, Sunday edition.

[8] “The Appropriations in Detail,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, March 26, 1909.

[9] “Negro Hospital Opens,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, May 14, 1909.

[10] “Afro- American Notes:” The Pittsburgh Press, September 11, 1910, Sunday edition.

[11] “Hospital Board Meets,” The Pittsburgh Press, April 6, 1913, Sunday edition.

[12] “Negroes Hospital Campaign Launched,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 1, 1922.

[13] “Hospital to Start Drive Tomorrow for Building,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 2, 1922.

[14] “Hospital Association Plans Health Campaign and Tag Day,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 21, 1922.

[15] “Legal Notices,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 1, 1922.

[16] Work, Monroe N., The Negro Year Book: An Annual Encyclopedia of the Negro, 1926th ed. (Tuskegee, Alabama: The Negro Yearbook Publishing Company, 1926).

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