By Mark McConville
EERIE images have revealed the abandoned African American hospital where the first black heavyweight champion of the world died because segregation prevented black doctors from accessing the technology that could have saved his life.
The haunting pictures of the walls where boxer Jack Johnson lost his fight with death show the extensive building, which are the only part of the structure still standing while metal beams crisscross between them.
Other stunning shots show how nature has begun to reclaim the building as plants and weeds grow tall and engulf what remains of the interior.
The spectacular photographs were taken at Saint Agnes Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA by urban explorer Summer King (25) from Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
“Today the hospital stands as a monument of a time once passed,” she said.
“A time where racial segregation and slavery were of normality. A time when human lives were beaten, broken and worked to the bone. A time that we should never forget and seek to learn from.
“Today St. Agnes hospital stands as a reminder. A reminder of what was and what never shall be again.
Located on St. Augustine’s College campus, St. Agnes Hospital first opened its doors in October 1896 and served as a hospital and nurse training centre for African Americans.
Jack Johnson died there on June 10th 1946 at the age of 68 after a car crash on US Highway 1. He had reportedly raced angrily away from a diner that refused to serve him because of his race.
Summer, who took the pictures with a Sony Nex-7, wants to show the beauty of the buildings that have been forgotten.
“Right now, people really seem to be into abandoned asylum type structures. It’s like an adventure into the past, I think.
“So, people always really love the vibe that they get from these old buildings.
“I photograph what I like. The things that catch my eye and things that I think others will also enjoy seeing.
“Greenery, shrubs, vines crawling up the sides of buildings, old doors, entrances. Those are things that catch my eye.
“I love photographing anything abandoned. Bringing life and exploration to something so far gone it’s never coming back is exciting for me.
“The other fun side to it is exploring these dilapidated structures. So many neat things hiding inside waiting to be found.”
The hospital was expanded in 1903 to include new facilities, including an operating room. A 1904 fire severely damaged the hospital but a new facility was ready for occupation in June 1909.
Students of the college had quarried and laid the stone that now makes up the current structure after being prompted by Reverend Henry Beard Delany.
St Agnes hospital was the largest hospital for African Americans between Atlanta and Washington by the 1920s.
The hospital closed in 1961 when the Wake County Medical Center opened and was declared a Raleigh Historic Landmark in 1979.