NEWBERRY — Before the location at 1747 Vincent St. was a park, it was an African American hospital, the only in Newberry County. While the location holds memories of those the hospital served, today it is home to an inviting area for children and teens to enjoy.
Dr. Julian Edward Grant, born in 1900 in Marlboro County, graduated from Claflin College in 1925, completing Meharry Medical College in Nashville in 1929. Grant came to Newberry in 1930 to practice medicine.
“Dr. Grant noticed the African American community had a need in Newberry and he founded People’s Hospital,” said City Councilman Thomas Boyd. “He was about serving people, and never allowed his ego to get in the way of his purpose.”
At the time, People’s Hospital was created, Newberry County Memorial Hospital was segregated.
On Monday, community members and city employees gathered with members of Grant’s family to dedicate Vincent Street Park in his honor.
Mayor Foster Senn shared his relationship with Grant as a young boy, recalling that his family owned land in the same area.
“My family knew him and had a relationship with him,” Senn said. “He was held in great esteem as a person with great kindness and a great doctor.”
Grant rallied the support of the community, Senn said, and renovated a home full of modern equipment. A board of trustees was organized by Grant, made up of members from the Newberry community.
By 1935, the board had acquired 1747 Vincent St., complete with a two-story, seven-room framed house on two acres of land. The land sold for $1,500. Fitted and renovated with medical equipment, People’s Hospital opened in 1937.
After the hospital closed in 1952, the area became the Vincent Street Community Center before being demolished in 1970 to build Vincent Street Park. The park was renovated at the end of 2013.
Lisa Toland, vice president of AKA sorority, along with members from the group were present, presenting a tree to be planted at the park in Grant’s memory.
“We wanted to donate the tree to the park as a lasting memory of Dr. Grant and as a symbol of longevity, tranquility and of life itself to the community,” Toland said.
Georgia Suber recalled knowing Grant’s children when they were born, as Grant was in her father’s and grandfather’s lives as their doctor.
When Suber met her husband in 1940, she discovered that Grant had delivered all of her mother-in-law’s children. Suber described Grant taking her family in as his own.
“He would come by when it was time for us to plant,” Suber said. “He would give my husband money for plants, and we would give him some of the plants for that.”
In 1960 when Suber’s children caught polio, she remembered when her daughter had too high of a fever to contain.
“He came with a tub full of ice, wrapped my daughter in towels, and stayed with us all night,” Suber said.
When Suber offered him thanks, she said what he said to her was something she always remembered and to this day tries to live by: “Don’t you ever feel so high that you can’t reach down to pull someone up.”
Grant’s passion for what he did inspired Suber to become a nurse and she worked in People’s Hospital as a clean-up person under him and another nurse. Suber became a nurse’s assistant, later on encouraged to go back to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN).
Andrew Shealy also shared memories of Grant. Also living near Grant’s family, Shealy’s father had a garden, which helped him and Grant develop a bond.
Shealy now serves as a board member for Grant Homes in Newberry, where Grant was once chairman on the board.
“I don’t know of anyone who made a larger impact on me than Dr. Grant,” Shealy said. “Those who didn’t know him, you missed a jewel.”
Grant’s son, Arther, and his daughter were presented a plaque honoring Grant’s legacy and proclaiming May 5, 2014, to be “Dr. Julian Edward Grant Family Day.”
“We cannot stay connected without any memories,” Arther said. “You have created that today.”