History and images have been compiled from various sources including, among others, the 1987 National Register of Historic Places, Stack & Beasley's 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Union County Public Library (Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian), the Heritage Room Photo Collection, North Carolina Map Collection, Rootsweb - An Ancestry.com Community and Ancestry.com family histories.

Quality Hill Sanatorium

Photo circa 1980 - This building was demolished in 1988
 after severely damaged by March 1985 fire. Though efforts 
to preserve had begun in 1982, the fire destroyed any chance 
to save this valuable piece of local African-American history. 
-Patricia Poland, UCPL - Heritage Room Photo
1900 Massey House - Next door
800 West Windsor Street
Destroyed by March 1985 fire
Quality Hill Sanatorium, 802 West Windsor Street, was a hospital for Monroe's black community. It opened "its doors to the public for inspection on Monday, August 19th" in 1912. (Monroe Journal July 23, 1912) Ethel Dennis Stokes owned and managed the "Hotel Dennis" or Dennis Apartments (mid to late 1950s to 1960s) housed in Dr. Massey's former hospital building. The building was demolished in January of 1988 after a March 28, 1985 fire destroyed much of the building.

The hospital was founded by Dr. John Sherman Massey (1866-1946) in 1912. He was Union County's first black physician. Massey was a Lancaster County, South Carolina native who began to practice in Union County after graduating in 1896 from the Leonard School of Medicine (Shaw University, Raleigh, NC). His home was next door at 800 W. Windsor Street (the house was where the 1985 fire started). The [top] photo above is before 1930, as the January 1930 Sanborn map for Monroe shows an addition to the hospital that is not seen in this photo. It is interesting to note that Dr. Massey was mentioned as a member "not in attendance" at a 1903 Union County Medical Society meeting - unusual as it was rare for a black physician to be admitted to a white physician's group in that time.  


In the "Annual Report of the Board of Public Charities of North Carolina 1913," Quality Hill Sanatorium is one of four listed "Hospitals Exclusively For The Colored." The report included: "This is a private hospital of a colored physician. Surgical and medical cases. Fees of patients and also receives contributions. Three nurses. Charges: $1 to $1.50 per day; Admitted during the year:100; Discharged cured or improved: 98; Died: 2; number of charity patients: 26; Three orthopedic cases treated." - J. S. Massey, Superintendent. Photo circa 1912 (before 1930) from the Heritage Room Collection. Above information researched and compiled by Patricia Poland, Union County Public Library, Monroe, NC.

The 1920 Monroe Census recorded physician John S. Massey 52, on Windsor Street, with wife Kate 40 (married about 1898), son Clarence 20, [adopted] daughter Thelma [Gallishaw] 13 and 13-year-old boarder John Thromer [Thrower].

The 1930 Monroe Census recorded: John S. Massey 60, Katie 55, Clarence S. 23 (adopted), Reginald 4, nephew John Maxwell 16 and Harry Gallishaw 27 (adopted). Value of house $8,000. At Quality Hill Sanatorium: patient Percy McKenzie 19, Estelle McKensie 18, cook Mary Cureton 27, register nurse Lillian Robertson 23 and hospital laborer Jasper Gilbert 22.

Additional information from Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian, Union County Public Library; this is a portion of a brochure distributed at a recent program - click to enlarge:

1 comment:

  1. A group of us riding our bicycles by one afternoon got a guided tour from an elderly African American man. This would have been during the last days of the Hotel Dennis I believe.

    I recall a two sided sign hanging on the front facade of the Sanatorium saying Hotel.

    I remember the addition at the rear being a long hall with rooms on either side. There was a parlor type room near the front with an organ which the old gentleman played for us.

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