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Medical Office of South Carolina’s first Black trained surgeon added to National Register of Historic Places

As of May 20, 2019, the Medical Office of Dr. Cyril O. Spann, located two doors down from the Good Samaritan Waverly Hospital on Hampton Street, has been officially added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The building served as the office of Dr. Spann from 1963 until his death in 1979 and represents the history of segregated medical facilities in Columbia until the opening of the integrated Richland County Memorial Hospital in 1972.

It is in Columbia’s Historic Waverly neighborhood, a City of Columbia Protection Area and one of the few African American residential districts in South Carolina that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Dr. Spann, a native of Chester, SC and graduate of Benedict College and Meharry Medical College, was a Black physician and surgeon who operated a practice out of this building while also working at the Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital down the block. From 1966 to the hospital’s closure in 1973, Dr. Spann served as the hospital’s chief of staff.

Unlike the segregated hospital wings and waiting rooms that typically greeted Black patients seeking care, Dr. Spann’s office provided a doctor’s office created by and for African Americans. Through additional rigorous study and practice at Meharry, Dr. Spann became the only trained Black surgeon in South Carolina during the 1960s and early 1970s. As a result, Dr. Spann traveled to Kingstree, Sumter, Union, Greenville, Charleston, and other areas across the state to provide his much-needed surgical expertise to Black patients. Spann also acted alongside other civil rights leaders to desegregate downtown Columbia businesses, and to support the 187 student protestors arrested for demonstrating at the South Carolina State House, which led to a US Supreme Court ruling in their favor in Edwards v. South Carolina (1963).

Catherine Fleming Bruce of Tnovsa Global Commons prepared and presented the successful nomination to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History State Board of Review. The nomination grew out of the ‘2226 Hampton Street project’, focused on the civil rights era doctor’s office and the oral histories of Black medical personnel who practiced there before and after segregation, which received 2018 funding by the Richland County Conservation Commission, which administers historic preservation grants, and also from Richland County through its Hospitality Tax and Discretionary grant programs.

The Dr. Cyril O. Spann Medical Office was operated exclusively by African-American physicians from 1964 until 1995. These individuals included Dr. Albert Reid, Dr. Everett Dargan, Dr. Gerald Wilson, Dr. Burnett Gallman, Dr. Ronald Johnson, the late Dr. Vera McBryde, a Latta, SC native; and the Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center Annex founded by Dr. Stuart Hamilton.

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