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Mon, 05.20.1918

Detroits Dunbar Hospital served the Motor City

Dunbar Hospital in Detroit, MI, was founded on this date in 1918.

During World War I, health care for Blacks in Detroit was inferior compared to Whites, as neighborhoods and the city were changing. More than 30,000 African-Americans lived in Detroit, which was severely segregated. Black physicians could not join the staffs of Detroit's White hospitals and patients were denied care at the city's White hospitals. Thus, 30 Black doctors, members of the Allied Medical Society (now the Detroit Medical Society), incorporated Dunbar Hospital, the city's first nonprofit community hospital for the African-American population.

Allied Medical Society bought the Warren House and converted it into Dunbar Memorial Hospital. Designed in the Romanesque Revival style, this two-and-a-half story brick and ashlars building began as the home of a real estate developer Charles W. Warren in 1892. The hospital not only provided care, but also sponsored nurses' training classes and internships for graduate students. In 1928, growing demand led Dunbar Hospital to move to a larger facility several blocks east and was later renamed Parkside, operating under that name until 1962. The building then became the home of Charles C. Diggs, Sr., who subsequently, while living in a different location, became Michigan's first African-American Democratic state senator.

In 1978, the successor to the Allied Medical Society, the Detroit Medical Society, purchased the house. It has recently renovated the building (shown), converting it into its headquarters and a museum. The Dunbar Hospital is located three blocks east of the Detroit Cultural Center and approximately one block west of the Chrysler Freeway (Interstate 75) at 580 Frederick St. The building is open to the public.

Reference:
The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York
ISBN 0-02-864984-2

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