District 10 Atlanta City Councilmember C.T. Martin, Mayor Kasim Reed and the Department of Parks and Recreation to host Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new Doctors’ Memorial Park on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 3 p.m., located at 500 Fairburn Road, S.W.
This historic site was the location of the former Holy Family Hospital (Southwest Hospital) which, in 1972 the hospital administrator shot and wounded two community activists, Arthur Langford and Willie Ricks, who were engaged in a hunger strike in support of striking hospital employees. Several community activists including the Reverend Joe Boone had gathered in a tent in front of the property to discuss strategy when Langford and Ricks were shot. This racially charged incident was a major pivotal point in integrating the health care system in Atlanta and the South at the time.
The Catholic Medical Mission began operating a free clinic for black patients in the Third Ward in 1943. Black doctors gave care there. Hughes Spalding was the only fully equipped hospital for blacks when they decide to build the Holy Family Hospital in the 60’s. Sister Theophane used Mission funds monies raised largely from white donors for construction of the hospital across the street.
Holy Family Hospital was erected in 1962; several years after the Medical Mission Sisters of the Catholic Church had a vision in 1948 to build a facility for African Americans due to a shortage of hospital beds for Blacks in Atlanta.
The project was a joint effort between Black and Whites raising private funds as well as federal funds provided by the Hill- Burton Act. Aeck Associates designed the hospital and Beer Construction Company erected the hospital on a 60 acre site west of Fairburn Road and Sewell Road (now Benjamin E. Mays Dr.) in Southwest Atlanta. The Atlanta Daily World reported in 1962 that Holy Family Hospital was designed to become Atlanta’s first completely integrated medical school, teaching staff, a chapel, facilities for surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics, orthopedics, an out-patient clinic and 128 beds.
The hospital was renamed Southwest Community Hospital in1975 and opened a $900,000 intensive care unit in 1984 that was paid in full. The hospital closed its doors on January 16, 2009 after over 40 years of service.
On January 31, 2017 Mayor Reed will be joined by Councilmember C.T. Martin, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amy Phoung, the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services Commissioner Andrea Boone, several accompanying doctors, current and former elected officials and a host of notable community supporters.
In 2012, Councilmember C.T. Martin led the charge against the building of a Family Dollar store at the intersection of Benjamin E. Mays Drive and Fairburn Road. Several hundred community members in this southwest neighborhood rallied behind him and with the support of the City of Atlanta, successfully halted the development of a Family Dollar store to make way for a community green-space and memorial.
Beginning in 2014, the community was able to vocalize their hopes, concerns, comments and questions for the future park, through several community meetings led by Councilmember Martin and the Department of Parks and Recreation. Plans were then created to bring the residents of District 10 a world-class amenity.
The Doctors’ Memorial Park will pay significant homage to the doctors who played a vital role in the healthcare and well-being of the community.