“Dr. Pryor built a first rate hospital in downtown Chester to attract clients from the region.”
City Directories and History: 1908 – E.C. Stahn
This was the location of Dr. S. W. Pryor’s outstanding medical facility and hospital, the current location of the Chester Phone
Company Building. The building was planned well ahead of 1903, when the plans were completed by architect Hugh E. White. (The Rock Hill Herald on March 14, 1903). The contractor for this building is unknown – however in 1915 Rock Hill builder, Mr. Julian S. Starr was paid $5,000 for improvements to the hospital. However, in 1930, Rock Hill architect, Mr. Alfred D. Gilchrist drew extensive plans for upgrading the building for the hospital once again but it is unclear as to when and if these were used.
It appears Julian S. Starr was in high demand in Chester County and designed and built a significant number of commercial and public buildings.
Alfred D. Gilchrist was born and educated in Manchester, England and came to America in 1900. In 1912 he arrived in Rock Hill and began practicing architecture. Several building can be attributed to him; Ebenezer School – 1921, Stevenson Theater, Oakland Avenue Pres. Church, and several buildings at Winthrop University. His son, William P. Gilchrist worked as a designer and draftsman with the firm. Following WWII, Gilchrist associated with W. Lewis Cook in the firm Gilchrist and Cook. That firm had buildings including: Woodland Un. Methodist Church, Park Baptist Church and homes and schools. Ms. Bessie L. Garrison, Rock Hill Historical Research Papers #10 – 1952.
Additional Chester links: 103 Saluda Street
“Pryor Hospital was finished in 1917. It was one of the nicest hospitals in South Carolina, small, four stories high. It had an operating room and kitchen on the fourth floor. Dr. Pryor was in his prime, but during the flu epidemic, Dr. Pryor died of flu…..
Dr. Abell, in the meantime, was in the draft age. He went into the Army (before being drafted) so that he would be in the Surgical Department. We went to sign up, he thought he would be a Captain because he was a surgeon, but he was made a Lieutenant. But, on account of my age, they gave me a Captaincy. They said they would call me later but I never did serve. Two or three weeks later, they sent me a letter that so many doctors had come from Chester County, I was needed more at home.
Drs. Abell, Ross, Love, Malone and McLurkin had volunteered. I had a hard time with about one-third of the practice of Chester on my hands. The Armistice came along and Dr. Abell was relieved from service immediately and in a matter of days, he was back in Chester. Dr. Pryor had left in his will that Dr. McFadden, his son-in-law, or Dr. Malone and Dr. Thomas would be in charge of the Pryor Hospital and on his deathbed he said, “There will always be a Pryor Hospital in Chester.”
For a while, Dr. Bost of Charlotte, Dr. Coleman and Dr. Rakestraw were surgeons in Chester, but Dr. Abell was too much of a competitor, so the Pryor Hospital gradually became weaker and we decided to amalgamate the two, but it wouldn’t work. Mrs. Sigmon, one of the best head nurses, and Dr. McFadden just couldn’t get along. In 1926 the Pryor Hospital was closed and Chester Sanitarium rented it. The rent was $275 per month. The Pryor served a good purpose, however, there was a fire and we had to do so much repair because of the smoke damage, our rent was reduced from $275 to $175. We continued to pay bills and kept our heads above water. Dr. Abell became incapacitated with ruptured diverticulitis and a disability in his hand due to arthritis. In 1940, we found Dr. Patterson, a retired missionary from China and he has served here since 1940. With Dr. Patterson as general manager, I remained as secretary and we operated the hospital.
In 1947, we realized that the Pryor Hospital had become obsolete……”
(Information in part from: Chester County Heritage Book, Vol. I, Edt. by Collins – Knox, Published by the Chester Co Hist. Society – Jostens Printing, 1982)
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