NewsBlack History Month


LOOK BACK: Cora Anderson Negro Hospital provides healing for Bell County

Posted: 6:27 PM, Feb 26, 2024
Updated: 2024-02-26 19:27:59-05
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TEMPLE, Texas — In 1952 during segregation and Jim Crow laws, posters were hung all over town that said, “Would you like for temple to have a new modern hospital for negroes?” We have an opportunity to secure one. Plans will be discussed at a mass meeting of negroes on Sunday, Feb 17, at Wayman Chapel A.M.E Church,” reported by Temple Daily Telegram.

“The black community back then were really a tight-knit group of people and they supported whatever was going on in the community,” said Ella Townsend, Cora Anderson Negro Hospital.

This was the beginning of the efforts by the Temple Negro Hospital Committee, as the Community of Temple came together to build something new.

It was named after the largest single donor, a black businesswoman and philanthropist — Cora Anderson who donated $1,098 and another $1,500 to make sure the hospital would be completed on time.

“By the time I was 12 years old, that’s when I went to the hospital to get my tonsils removed, I was about 12 to 13 years old," said Ella Townsend with the Cora Anderson Negro Hospital.

"But I knew about the hospital from the community, and everybody was happy about it because you didn’t have to go to the basement at king daughters’ hospital and wait forever or down this long hallway on another floor."

The Cora Anderson Negro Hospital had 16 patient rooms and a surgical suite — Baylor Scott and white provided an equal racial public advisory board and care by majority black nursing staff dressed in all white.

“And I am talking now from like 15 to 16 years old, my main thing is, you didn’t have to wait forever even though you had to wait for the residents of interns to come from Scott and white, but the atmosphere was different because it was ran by blacks," Townsend said.

“The waiting room was out in the open you know with the glass, and you could see out and things like that and it wasn’t like being in a hole."

The hospital was open until December 1963 when times called for expansion and integration, allowing blacks to have equal access to care and hospitalization — a historical marker was placed at the property in 2017.

“I always believed that women have a place, we have a voice — so often the world says that we don’t, but here was a woman way before our current modern times that says yes, we do," said Tanya Roper with Hilltop Recovery Ministries.

"Because of her voice, we have a building that 50-70 years later, we are loving on a little bit and fixing to allow a whole other group of women to have a voice and be heard."

In 2024, Roper will keep parts of the original hospital, like the water fountain and clock. Cora Anderson and her grandmother, who Tanya says are special ladies to her, will also hang on the wall to continue the history.

"It’s easy to get caught up by the world and just see that things are hard and big and that we can’t tackle them but the construction that is going on here today, and the project that is getting ready to open up shows me that it is possible and it just takes hard work and it takes dreaming," she said.

"I feel like Cora Anderson was probably told more than once that her dream was crazy but we have a building that proves it’s not."

The building will reopen this spring by the Hilltop Recovery ministries to provide a safe space for women to recover in Bell County.