Richmond Community Hospital designated as endangered historic site

The former Richmond Community Hospital, a landmark in the city's Black community, has been designated as an endangered historic site by the Preservation Virginia nonprofit. The hospital, which was the first Black-owned hospital in the city and the only place where Black physicians could practice and Black patients could receive medical care, has been closed since the 1980s. The building's future has been under threat since Virginia Union University, which owns the land and the building, unveiled a partnership with a New York-based investor on a $40 million project for up to 200 residential units. The university has not confirmed if the hospital will be demolished.

The preservation organization selects sites statewide that are facing imminent or sustained threats. The hospital was named to the list of Virginia's Most Endangered Historic Places for 2024, which could help in its protection and preservation while also providing status for future applications on the state or national historic registries.

The former hospital is located in the city's 3rd District, which is represented by Councilmember Ann-Frances Lambert. Lambert stated that a meeting is being arranged between the union and individuals who want to preserve the hospital so that the university can hear the process of repurposing and rehabbing the building.

Elliott Rouillard, a new resident of Frederick Douglass Court who lives within sight of the hospital, said that the hospital's history should not be forgotten and that the community should strive to preserve the building. He also believes that the hospital could still be utilized as a community asset.

Thomasina T. Binga, a resident of Frederick Douglass Court who lived in her family home for the past 60 years, shared that several of her former neighbors were doctors at that hospital and most of the neighborhood's historic residents were born there. She also expressed her disappointment at the university's potential plans to demolish the hospital and stated, "Everything Black folk build, the first thing they want to do is tear it down."

Viola Baskerville, a former Richmond City Council member, state delegate, and Cabinet Secretary for Gov. Tim Kaine, spoke at the designation ceremony and stated that the hospital's preservation is important as a lesser-discussed piece of Richmond's Black history. She also stated that much of the local Black history is preserved and interpreted around the slave trade and the entrepreneurs of Jackson Ward and that the development of a significant African American medical community should also be lifted up.

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