Jervis Hairston was Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Fredericksburg from 1980 to 2003. He worked on the Planned Development-Medical Center (PD-MC) rezoning in Fredericksburg, which supported the creation of a medical campus and the new Mary Washington Hospital that opened in 1993. Hairston received a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Urban Studies and Sociology from Lenoir-Rhyne College and a Master’s in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia.
Jervis Hairston was interviewed by Jess Rigelhaupt on May 27, 2015.
Discursive Table of Contents
Undergraduate education at Lenoir-Rhyne—Graduate school in urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia; MA received in 1980—Applying for and accepting the position of Director of Planning for the City of Fredericksburg in 1980—Early experiences on the job—Strategic planning—Working with administrators at Mary Washington Hospital on plans for a new hospital in Fredericksburg
Securing HUD grants to address a kerosene spill into a creek above the Rappahannock River that occurred on his second day on the job—Plans to revitalize downtown—Historic preservation—Importance of history in Fredericksburg—Planned Development-Medical Center (PD-MC) zoning
Memories of 1979 expansion—Mary Washington Hospital and City of Fredericksburg relations in the 1980s, before the planning for the new hospital—Good working relationship between the City of Fredericksburg and Mary Washington Hospital—MWH MediCorp opens satellite facilities in 1984—City of Fredericksburg’s reaction to the possibility of Mary Washington Hospital relocating outside of the city
Working with Mary Washington Hospital to purchase the land and create the PD-MC—Concerns about the new hospital from physicians and community members—The day the new hospital opened—Hospital leaders discussed the new, advanced care in the new hospital—The new hospital was presented as part of medical campus
Important milestones for Mary Washington Hospital in the decade after the hospital opened—Mary Washington Hospital built the first parking garage in the City of Fredericksburg—Moss Free Clinic—FRED bus system—Thurman Brisben Center
Discussions about the new Mary Washington Hospital with other city planners and colleagues in local government—Summary statements about Mary Washington Healthcare—Career milestones as Director of Planning for the City of Fredericksburg, 1980-2003—African American history in Fredericksburg—Working with Mayor Lawrence Davies
African American history in Fredericksburg
It is May 27, 2015. I’m in Fredericksburg, Virginia, doing an oral history interview with Jarvis Hairston on the Mary Washington Health Care Oral History Project. To begin, I would like to ask you if you could describe how you began serving as Fredericksburg city planning director in 1980.
I went to undergraduate school in Hickory, North Carolina, a small college called Lenoir-Rhyne College. I played baseball there for a couple of years. Right out of Lenoir-Rhyne—because I didn’t get called up by the pros—I applied for graduate school at the University of Virginia at the urging of several of my professors at Lenoir-Rhyne. I was accepted immediately after I graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne and I entered graduate school in urban and environmental planning at University of Virginia, and I think this was 1978. I graduated there in 1980, actually in the winter of 1980, with a graduate degree in urban and environmental planning. Almost immediately, I applied for jobs throughout Virginia, one of which was in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was interesting and funny, too: when I was called for an interview at Fredericksburg, sitting in line with me for interviews were other graduates from my class at the University of Virginia planning school. The then city manager in early 1980, John Nolan of Fredericksburg, Virginia, had connections with the University of Virginia planning school. He had asked the school to send him some qualified planning candidates. The city of Fredericksburg never had a planner before then; they had an assistant city manager, I think, doing the planning duties. Luckily, and I’m sure with the help of some staff and professors at the University of Virginia, I did receive an offer for the job in early 1980. Actually, it was March 5, 1980 and that was my first day on the job. I remember that so well because on March 6, 1980, I think 80,000 gallons of kerosene spilled into a creek above the Rappahannock River. [03:00] That was severe and scary because the Rappahannock River was the source of our water for our drinking water system in Fredericksburg. I remember early in March the city manager calling all of his staff together to try to deal with this imminent threat to our water supply. I remember going to the meeting not even knowing where the water treatment plant in Fredericksburg was even located. But luckily I did know a few things about imminent threats to communities by virtue of my education and my internships at the University of Virginia. I had learned that there was a block of money with the federal government called “imminent threat” funds that was distributed and administered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They would provide money to communities to remove a legitimate threat affecting life and safety to residents in localities. In this case, it was a threat to our water system. We applied for, I think, $1.6 million in late 1980 and we were awarded $1,600,000 from HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to remove an imminent threat to our raw water supply source. It’s funny, because we took two years to remove an “imminent” threat. But that, I think, endeared me to the city manager, since I knew a little something. Nobody else knew anything about imminent threat funds with HUD. Twenty-three years later, I’ve made it a career in Fredericksburg and loved every minute of it, really. I came to Fredericksburg in early 1980, worked on comprehensive planning and site development, helped to shape the way this community was to grow. It was about 15,000 people then, and I think from 1980 to 1990 it grew from about 15,000 to about 20,000. Of course in 1990, early 1990s is when Mary Washington Hospital started to plan to relocate and move their facilities from the twelve acres over on Fall Hill Avenue to about seventy acres across Route 1. I remember that very well. [06:00] The city had started their strategic planning process, and in fact I don’t think the city had ever conducted a strategic planning process. We hired a consultant to help us through this strategic planning process. We identified the strengths that the city had and how to embellish them, take advantage of them, and how to increase them. As I recall, the main city advantage, or benefit, or quality attribute that the city had was its character: the city’s character and economic well being. Of course the city character is primarily its historic district, and its history itself, the Civil War and Revolutionary War. The economic well-being part of it had a lot to do with the hospital and the college. In 1990, Mary Washington Hospital was then the largest employer in the region. Back then they probably had about 1,500 or 1,600 employees; now it’s probably over 4,000. It was by far the largest employer in the region, located right in the middle of the city. It was, of course, located on twelve acres, sort of hemmed in with Route 1 and Fall Hill Avenue, and without a lot of additional room to expand. They had started looking at this seventy-acre site just west across Route 1, west of the old hospital and on the Snowden tract. This was a tract that was zoned residential. In fact, back then it was zoned, I think, R-2. Residential 2 at that time meant twenty units to the acre, not two units to the acre; it meant single-family attached and multi-family, which means townhouses and apartments. Of course at that time, the city was much more interested in economic development: offices and expansion of business more so than more residential development, which meant more schoolchildren to educate and to fund. The city, early on, met up with the hospital leadership, and I think at that time it was led by a fellow by the name of Bill Jacobs. William Jacobs was a terrific guy and just an easy guy to talk to and do business with, at least from my standpoint. We talked with them about their expansion plans and some ideas we had about the seventy-acre piece at the Snowden tract, right across Route 1 from where they were. [09:00] During those early discussions, we were also aware somehow—I don’t remember exactly how we became aware, but we were aware—that the hospital was going to expand. They were going to expand to provide additional rooms, but primarily for advancement in technology and essential medical services. The region was growing significantly, both Spotsylvania to our west and south, Stafford to our north and east. They were two of the fastest growing localities in the state and the city is sandwiched between those two. Fredericksburg was growing but not at a clip as fast as the surrounding counties. The hospital needed to grow, because they were really hemmed in where they were. Because of that, we were at least generally aware that the surrounding counties were also interested in a new hospital within their jurisdictions. The hospital and the college being the two mainstays economically and the main economic engines of the city at the time—in terms of an employment base, I think the hospital had a payroll back then of $40-50 million, and they had 140, 150 physicians at the time, as I recall. I remember that the projections were from 1990, which was about this time frame, the decade from 1990 to 2000, they were going to probably double in size in terms of physicians, and possibly payroll as well. I think they even doubled in size of employees that same decade. At any rate, the expanding hospital was a facility that was sought after by surrounding counties. I believe there were gestures being made on the part of the surrounding counties to try to lure the hospital from inside the city to sites outside of the city. That would’ve been devastating to the city. Not only was the hospital an economic engine for the city, sitting right in the middle of the city, but a number of those physicians associated with Mary Washington Hospital had improved properties in and around the old hospital for their own small medical offices. The land below where the hospital finally settled on was zoned for office development and we were certain that as the number of doctors associated with the hospital was to double, or to grow, we were certain that those services and those businesses and those expansions would take place around the hospital, like it had done at the old hospital site. [12:00] We were simply not interested in the hospital moving out. I remember a number of meetings being held and people being dispatched to probably Jacobs’s office. And Jacobs being called down to the city to discuss exactly, what do we need to do to sustain you and to keep you in the city? Long story short, that was worked out because I think primarily the hospital wanted to stay in the city. Obviously they needed to explore other options, but I think that they really wanted to stay in the center of the region, and Fredericksburg was the center of the region. It was the heart of the region, it was the economic, the cultural, the educational, legal, center, and everything seemed to revolve around the city. Of course we played that card as much as we could. But we also were aware that we thought that the leadership at the hospital was also interested in staying in the city as well, but it was the cause of some anxiety and it did take some convincing. In addition to the move of the hospital—and it was like an $80 million project—since then, of course, the expansions have been just tremendous with all the development in and around the hospital. In addition to building a new state-of-the-art, technologically advanced hospital right across the street from where it was, yet still in the heart of the city and growing by leaps and bounds, it also served to eliminate seventy (70) acres (twenty-units-to-the-acre) of residential property from the city. We were relieved not to have to expect 1,400 new residential homes on this seventy-acre tract. That was sort of a double advantage, if you will. Of course the rest is history, as they say. The hospital has not only fulfilled everything they planned, but it has grown from the entrance right on Route 1 all the way to Cowan Boulevard. [15:00] Developing around the hospital are the psychiatric center, the Tompkins-Martin building, a cancer treatment center, a women’s center, and all sorts of additional medical services, which is exactly what the comprehensive plan that I had prepared called for on those seventy acres. It was all a good experience. Again, it would have been devastating had the city had to endure the hospital leaving its boundaries. That’s a little long-winded, but that’s what I recall.
And we’ll come back to the planning development of the medical center, because that’s a big part of it. But I want to stay with—early on in your experience here, to provide some historical context, the region and the role of the hospital in it, what were some of the things you were most excited to work on as planning director when you began? Now obviously, you described the kerosene spill. Your second day got very busy.
That was really sort of the luck of the draw, really. As I indicated, at that point in time there was something called community development block grants that HUD, Department of Housing and Urban Development, provided. These were grant funds from the federal government that they had set aside to solve problems of people of low to moderate income. But they also set aside monies from the federal government and from the federal tax dollar, to solve major problems to localities, like threats to our water supply. Or it could have been just anything where some very significant issues were affecting a large amount of population in the city. I had known about that block of funds within the community development block grant program because I had worked as an intern in Nelson County as a student at the University of Virginia, where they actually solved a similar water supply problem on “Walton” Mountain. In that case, I think it was also a contaminated water supply. I just happened to have that “block grant” information available to me. Nobody else in the city knew the lingo: imminent threat. They didn’t know what that meant, but it was a category of funds that HUD set aside to solve such problems. All we had to do was apply for it and prove that it was an imminent threat—and I’m sure there was some competition for those funds as well. That was my first experience. [18:00] When I first came to the city, like I said, it was only about 15,000 and only about six square miles of territory. Much of the emphasis in those early days, in the early ‘80s, was to improve and try to reverse some of the impacts of what was happening to the downtown historic district, Caroline Street primarily. In the early 1980s many of the storefronts that you see on Caroline thriving today were empty. One of the reasons they were empty is because Spotsylvania County, right outside the city’s boundaries, was in the process of building or perhaps even had built—this is like ’82–’83—a regional mall. What those regional malls did and what the regional Spotsylvania mall did to downtown Fredericksburg is basically gut it. JCPenney, Sears, Leggett’s—all of the big department stores abandoned downtown and went out to the mall. You know what that did the tax base and the revenue sources for the city of Fredericksburg? Along with those anchor stores from downtown along Caroline Street within the middle of the historic district, other, smaller stores also found it harder to sustain themselves. We were dealing with fifty percent, perhaps, of the storefronts empty. We were looking to try to revitalize downtown, find some replacements for those large anchor stores, and continue to put in place ordinances and regulations that preserved what was special about the city. Ultimately that’s what would keep us viable: the tourist and the people that came to the city because of what it offered from a history standpoint. We never forgot that. At the same time, we had the hospital and the college and a few other entities that were helping, but we had some significant problems to overcome. We did a brick sidewalk program, we did more landscaping, and we enhanced the ordinances that protected some of the historic structures and homes in the downtown area. [21:00] An example of that: before I came to the city, the city had many good efforts, probably led by Historic Fredericksburg Foundation and the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, to preserve and maintain historic structures. There were many of them within the forty-block historic district, the state and national register district. The ordinances that were in place to protect those buildings did a good job of protecting those individual historic properties, but the ordinance that was in place then stated that buildings that predate 1870 would be subject to that protection, but if it did not predate 1870, they would not. What was magic about 1870? They put the initial historic ordinance in place in 1970, and they said, “Well, a hundred years ago, that’s what we’ll do.” That wasn’t good enough because buildings next to buildings that predate 1870 can impact those older buildings. One of the things that I helped accomplish, along with the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation and other local preservationists, was to amend and revise the city’s historic district ordinances to afford that kind of protection to all buildings, including new construction. That was a huge, huge battle, but we were able to put in place some more comprehensive requirements that would protect the older buildings. New construction should respect it versus overpower it. Those are some of the things I was working on back then. We also talked a lot about riverfront development back then, and I learned that they had been talking about it for ten, fifteen years before me—and they talked about it for ten, fifteen years after me. Finally, they’re doing something significant. We’ve had some small successes along the river, specifically at the city dock. There was plenty to do and plenty of challenges having to do with the downtown and trying to seek out growth opportunities to replace some of those revenues that we had lost to the Spotsylvania mall in the early ‘80s.
What were some of the things you remember that you could’ve only learned once you started the job? Undoubtedly you did some research on Fredericksburg before your interview, you prepared for it, but once you get into a job you start to learn things. What were some of the things about the city that stick out and that you really could’ve only known once you were working in city government?
Right. If I had my druthers about it back then, I would’ve probably just totally concentrated on the historic preservation part because that’s what seemed to pique my interest the most. [24:00] I did have a fairly good understanding of the comprehensive plan process and how you need to update your long-range planning documents and other vehicles to make sure that you’re moving in the direction that the city wants to move in. I had a good understanding of that. Very few people did. I also had a pretty good understanding of a number of growth management techniques and provisions that could implement a comprehensive plan or a policy plan with zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance, and other capital improvements program. Much of my attention was devoted to ordinances and plans that preserved and tried to enhance the downtown historic district. That was sort of the bread and butter of the city then and it’s possibly still the bread and butter of the city. Obviously there’s the Civil War history associated with the region, not just the city of Fredericksburg. There is also American Revolutionary War history associated with it. In fact, I still give downtown walking tours of various historic sites and now I concentrate on black history. At any given time, on several corners in downtown Fredericksburg, you’re standing at one of the most historic places in in the United States. The corner of George Street and Princess Anne Street, for example, where you’ve got the National Bank of Fredericksburg, the Presbyterian Church, St. George’s, and the Circuit Court. That corner, in and of itself, most people can’t even fathom where they are: you’re standing on a corner where Lincoln was, where Jefferson Davis addressed the Confederate troops, and where James Renwick, architect who designed the castle at the Smithsonian, also designed the downtown Circuit Court building. St. George’s Church and the Presbyterian Church both date back to the mid-1800s, and of course George II (George Street), who was the king of England at the time that the city was chartered. Then just right up the street from that is the old City Hall built in 1813–1814. It has the market square in the back and entertained General Lafayette in 1824 because he was a friend of the revolution. The story I tell, though, is that when they were entertaining General Lafayette at a parade in his honor, they ordered all the slaves off the streets during the procession because they didn’t want the French general to see the slaves, I guess. [27:00] That’s what I mean: there’s a history lesson and an interesting story on every corner in downtown Fredericksburg and that’s what I gravitated to the most. Luckily for me, I’ve kept that and I’ve got numerous books and papers and copies of deeds that I came across in the Circuit Court. There are stories about these buildings, the churches, and some of the historic buildings that date back to the early 1800s and late 1700s. That was my focus. I had to expand that into the suburbs and to the residential neighborhoods below and above the college and west of Route 1 to make sure we did the neighborhood planning as well as the downtown historic district planning. Those were the early days.
Thinking of the early days, how would you describe your first interaction, if you can think of it, or some of your earliest memories of the hospital?
You mentioned it a minute ago and it was something called the PD-MC district ordinance [Planned Development-Medical Center (PD-MC)]. I had mentioned that the comprehensive plan is a general guide of how you want to grow and the zoning ordinance is the specific requirement or regulation or provision that helps to grow the way you want to grow. In order to facilitate the hospital’s move to the Snowden tract, the seventy-acre Snowden tract—it may have been seventy-eight acres—we had ordinances and zoning districts at the time that designated on that property residential, as I had indicated. We weren’t really crazy about that because we really didn’t want to see 1,400 houses on that hill. What we did, in order to help facilitate and ease the hospital’s process into moving across Route 1 from where they were, was to prepare a zoning ordinance district that was more conducive to the growth plan that the hospital had. We put in place the Planned Development-Medical Center District. I think we prepared that ordinance in-house, with the help of the hospital folks—I forget exactly who was working specifically with me. It could’ve been Paul Pruitt and Bill Jacobs and others. What we had to do was craft the language of the ordinance that made it easier for the hospital to relocate there versus throw up more roadblocks from a zoning and a site plan review process. [30:00] That’s what we did. Again, we were interested in making it as painless as possible because they meant so much to the city in a number of ways. So that’s what we did: we put that ordinance in place. Of course that meant public hearings before the planning commission and the city council. You can’t just pass an ordinance without a public hearing. It’s required to have a public hearing before the planning commission and the city council. You have to have a first read and second read of ordinances in order to make it law. Once it was law, the hospital could move to that site without having to worry about a noncompliant ordinance with the residential designation of the property prior to the PD-MC ordinance.
A year before you started, in 1979 the hospital broke ground on a relatively large expansion.
Was that the Amy Guest wing?
I think so, yes.
I remember that. Perhaps it even finished up my first year there. Of course, again, 1970 to ’80, and then ’80 to ’90: these were growth spurts. Although I wasn’t in their individual meetings, I’m sure the hospital was trying to project and do a prognosis on how fast they needed to grow. Can we sustain our services and our level of care and services with an addition here? Or are we hemmed in? As you know, the old hospital site was on twelve acres surrounded by a residential community. When you look at that residential community surrounding the old hospital on Fall Hill Avenue, now the Chamber of Commerce offices, you’ll see that just a whole host of those old bungalows, mostly one-story houses, Cape Cods. Many had been converted from homes to medical offices—an allergist, a dentist, an anesthesiologist—to be close to the hospital. The fact that so much of that was going on in the neighborhood surrounding the hospital spoke to the problem. The doctors wanted to be close to the hospital, the hospital wanted to grow, and it was getting more and more into the neighborhood. In a way, that pattern dictated a larger hospital site. Someone at the hospital added that up with the projections for the continued growth of the region. [33:00] After all, we were located on the I-95 corridor, the golden crescent. Stafford County and Spotsylvania County was growing in just terrific ways with residential development. The Beltway people wanted to live outside of the Beltway and were moving south because of housing prices, land prices, and less traffic. All of that was happening and I’m sure that was built in to the decision by the hospital to abandon what they had just added on to (Amy Guest Wing) and move to the new bigger site. I think medical technology and having the infrastructure and the building in place to accommodate that medical technology probably had as much to do with it as the fact that the neighborhood was basically pinching them in. Good for us, really. Good to us, the city, I think.
Other than the expansion, in the first seven, eight years you were city planning director, what were some of the most common reasons that the hospital would’ve been working with the city?
Early on when I was there, most of their issues had to do with issues of growth and expansion and potentially conflicts with surrounding neighborhoods, but not anything that was severe. Obviously if it’s a hospital trying to expand and your neighbor is a single-family house or two, it’s severe to somebody, even if it’s just a homeowner. Those were the types of things that we were dealing with. I’m sure the hospital was dealing with doctors who wanted to be close to them and yet they couldn’t buy up all the houses around that old hospital quick enough to locate there. They wanted to continue to be within walking distance of the hospital. As I mentioned before, when you’re dealing with residential neighborhoods you’re dealing with deed restrictions, which are private restrictions on the property. They are not public zoning laws, but private restrictions put on by the developer. Many of those private deed restrictions on land that possibly was owned by the hospital, adjacent to it but into the neighborhood, prohibited medical office uses and office uses or commercial uses from being developed there. Even though they owned some of the property, they really couldn’t use it because of these private deed restrictions. The only way to eliminate or alleviate these private deed restrictions was to get the approval of all the homeowners and that’s pretty hard to do. Those were the types of growing pains and problems that we were dealing with, with the hospital and with the neighborhoods before. Parking was always an issue. [36:00] In this case there was the high school right across the street, and it was growing. Although it wasn’t growing as fast, it was growing and it was right across the street. I suspect there was even talk between the hospital and the high school, James Monroe High School, about expansion, at one point in time as well. It just made sense because they were neighbors. Parking and the impacts of the hospital on the surrounding neighborhood was a fair amount of the issue-oriented items that I was dealing with. It never seemed to be so severe or intense that it posed lawsuits to the degree that there was major notoriety about it. It could’ve been, but maybe I was concentrating on other things so much I didn’t notice.
Was it a good working relationship?
Oh yeah. Absolutely good. Why wouldn’t it be? The city certainly recognized its main gem is the historic district and its history, but a close second was the hospital and the college, no doubt about it. That’s why when we shaped the strategic plan to determine where the city was going to go in the next decade or two, we identified city character, history, and economic well-being. The economic well being of the city was not just downtown redevelopment, but it was also the college and the hospital. Those were the three things that were the main economic well-being. It was also identifying areas for additional growth later on. The annexation in 1984 solved a lot of problems. That’s what we’ve got here with Central Park and Celebrate Virginia. That was the annexation of 1984, which expanded the city boundaries from six square miles to ten and a half square miles. Most of that expansion is where we’re sitting now, Central Park, and the Celebrate Virginia development, which generated the revenue and the funds to allow the city to do things a little bit faster. Rather than doing one block of brick sidewalks in the historic district that we were trying to do in the early 1980s, once this type of revenue base was in place we could do a whole street at a time or a whole downtown at a time. It worked out with that ’84 annexation: we annexed amicably and we didn’t have to sue each other. [39:00] We annexed four and a half square miles with Spotsylvania County with an agreement, versus having to sue each other. For Spotsylvania it would have been to protect our territory and for the city to prove they needed land to keep from stagnating.
Just before 1984, in ’82–’83, Mary Washington Hospital became MWH MediCorp, which more or less was a name change and restructuring. Was that noteworthy to the city?
I’m sure it was. I don’t recollect a whole lot about that process. I know that it was a private wing and a public wing of the hospital, but for the most part the hospital has always been involved in community giving and community projects and giving back. I think that’s probably the way it was seen, largely. After all, I suspect the board of the hospital was made up of a lot of people from the city. We sort of had built-in caregivers for the city on the board of the hospital, and we still do, I think. But it’s not just the city; it’s the region now. I didn’t see that as a huge issue back then. I don’t recall it being an issue or anything that was bothersome or troublesome or caused any anxiety.
Around that same time, in 1984, MediCorp opened satellite offices for physicians, Stafford, Bowling Green, and Dahlgren. How did the city view the regional expansion?
There was always some concern with that, I think. Although most people in the city, and certainly the planning folks, understood that this was a region that was growing so fast that they had to grow that way just to keep up. I don’t think we ever though that was the beginning of another relocation or a move of the main hospital to a suburban area or outside the city. We saw it as them trying to keep up with the population base expanding out from the core. So again, I don’t think that was a big problem. Although every time you see that happening, you obviously would rather all of that happen in and around the main hospital. We understood that some of these services needed to be closely connected to where the growth was. [42:00] That’s what was happening, I think. They also put specialty centers, like the cancer treatment center out on Route 3, other places. They were essentially reacting to the growth and putting the services where the people were.
What do you remember about the first time you got word, you knew that there was—not rumor, not quite the right word, but something along those lines—that the hospital was really thinking about relocating, and how the city began to react?
At the time that they were talking about that, we—when I say we, it’s the council primarily and I—were there to help the city manager to implement the programs and the policies of the council. The council, again, about that same time, were just in the process of doing the strategic planning process. It was clearly intentional that one of the focus points of the strategic plan had to be to embellish and to assist the hospital and the college to continue to be the area’s mainstays that they were. That shaped the city’s response. To the degree that we were aware, or became aware of efforts on the part of other localities surrounding us to try to lure the hospital away, I’m certain that there were meetings held between the city council, the city manager and his staff, and the hospital officials to say, “Here’s what we can do for you.” It probably had to do with things like water and sewer fee reductions or forgiveness or amortization or things that would ease the pressure of the major investment that they’re doing, an $80 million investment in the middle of the city. We responded to those things. Even though we had a really good advantage by being dead center in the middle of the region, I don’t think we took it for granted. I remember that the mayor and the vice mayor and probably the leaders of the council at the time meeting with Jacobs and others to say, “Look, there’s just no alternative but for you to remain in the city.” I don’t know that this all happened that way, but I think it did. [45:00] The fact that the hospital, MediCorp and the hospital were able to secure the seventy acres from the then owner, Foustok was his name—I forget his first name. I suspect that there were members of the council that helped that process along too. I met with them, and I’ve met them in the Snowden house, where the MediCorp Foundation is now centered. There was a big discussion about saving that house and keeping that house as part of the overall regional medical center campus. Not only did the hospital do that, they embellished it all. In fact, we were worried about them maybe not doing everything possible to preserve that very, very nice structure on the hill at Snowden there. Not only was that worry unfounded, Bill Jacobs and the hospital went overboard in putting the right setting around it, preserving it, and in reusing it, which was just, I think, the perfect thing to do. Probably cost a little money, but it was still the right thing to do. I think the entrance to the hospital is much more attractive now because of that.
How long, and what was the process, probably more than the specific dates, the process of working with the hospital after they had acquired the property and leading up to what eventually became the PD-MC?
Those were the nuts and bolts of reviewing the site plans, and of course we had engineers doing that mostly. My job was to make sure that the overall plan was executed and implemented. My job was also to make sure that the bells and whistles associated with the buildings, the architecture, the circulation, the landscaping, and the amenities reflected what we thought was going to happen and that the Snowden mansion would be preserved. That was the nuts and bolts of reviewing their site plans a little at a time and all their infrastructure surrounding it. I had to make sure that it fit in where it was going and it preserved the areas to connect to Cowan Boulevard, and even to connect to Fall Hill Avenue, which is the next connection. The right-of-way for the extension of Mary Washington Boulevard out to Fall Hill Avenue was put in place when the hospital was done. [48:00] There’s no discussion these days with the city about having the hospital dedicate more right-of-way because it was put in place in the 1990s, for the most part. I’m sure there were some tweaks going on to allow for the four-lane of Mary Washington Boulevard through to Fall Hill Avenue, and that’s, of course, about to take place. Those bits and pieces were planned just very well. The back entrance to Cowan Boulevard may have been a little bit less definite at the time, but we did understand and desire to have additional medical office related uses in place up and above and behind the hospital towards Cowan Boulevard versus additional residential development. That has taken place as well.
There’s a period of time between when the hospital acquires the land, or MediCorp acquires the land, and the PD-MC becomes an ordinance and really exists in law. Was it more or less a foregone conclusion? Did the hospital really, or MediCorp, have any major risk in buying this property and the PD-MC wasn’t going to happen? Or was it just a matter of time to go through the process?
No. It was a partnership, and by that I mean they didn’t dictate exactly what the ordinance said. We, the city, were interested in putting in place a piece of regulatory legislation that would facilitate that development, not block it or inhibit it in any way. It was a partnership. I remember meetings. I’m sure I had meetings, and not just me, but the planning commission and the planning department had meetings with Bill and his staff about various issues and provisions within the PD-MC ordinance. The open space requirement, for example: is it too strenuous or excessive? We shaped the uses that we put in there. I guarantee you there was a discussion about what uses are “by right” and what uses takes a “special use permit” so that there’s one additional level of public hearing and discretion, if you will. I don’t recall it being a fight. I recall it being more of a: this is what we need and this will help us. How do you do it? That’s what I recall. There could have been some acrimony, but I don’t recall it; it wasn’t the order of the day. [51:00] It may have been the exception.
In these interviews, I’ve learned that there were some physicians and some community members concerned about both the size of the hospital and the potential costs, that they might not make it if they take out the level of debt that was required to expand. How were those things vocalized to the city?
There was some of that, but for the life of me, to the degree that I recall it, that manifest itself in the public hearings of the ordinance or the public hearings where they would’ve come in for the rezoning. That’s when that would be made known publicly. I think the best way to describe that is that there may have been some of that, but the greater good and the larger issue was what the hospital meant for employment, revenue, future medical office development, and the city itself won the day over one or two or three or four specific issues related to how the larger hospital facility would affect others. It did come up, but again, I don’t recall it being even. The pros totally outweighed the cons, and it wasn’t even close. I don’t even think the cons thought it was close.
Between the time the PD-MC was signed into law, and it was probably more or less a conclusion before that, but in January of 1990, the hospital opens a little over three years later, in September of ’93. Do you recall any issues? Or once the PD-MC was put in place things were pretty straightforward with the hospital leading up to the construction and the opening.
I think there were some issues. The city had not seen a huge glass structure with the two bed towers, which overlooked Normandy Village, a subdivision just below it. I think there was some issue related about that’s a big building overlooking the historic Rappahannock Canal and the walkway there. Did we do the best job we could by that? [54:00] If that was a huge issue, it certainly died down quickly. The fact of the matter is that the alternative of possibly having the hospital relocate from downtown and the middle of the city was just so severe in the back of the minds of not just the leaders of the city, but I think in the back of the minds of 1,500 employees at that time. Of course, it grew two to three times that much over the next fifteen or twenty years and I think people recognized the impact and the contribution of the hospital and what it meant to the city. It was John and Jane Q. Homeowner that were just as adamant about keeping the hospital in the city because of the convenient location of it, as it was the corporate folks and the folks counting the revenue potential and the dollars about how this was going to help the revenue picture of the city. It was across the board and a large, large majority of people wanted to keep this hospital in the city, and very, very few people were willing to accept the reality of it moving out of the city.
What do you remember about the day that it opened?
I met some rather famous people at the hospital. I was trying to think—I think Bart Starr’s—was it Bart Starr’s company that built the hospital? I may be thinking about a different event. There were some very organized and structured grand opening festivities. They brought in people to show all this new technology. Really what it all boils down to and what’s most important about what the hospital did when it was growing was what it did to improve the medical and technological capability of serving people and saving people. That really is what I think dictated the move and the expansion. I don’t remember specifically those festivities, but I do remember that there were some significant national names brought in to be part of those festivities. I think one of those was Bart Starr, who was of course the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. [57:00] I think his development company or his building company had something to do with construction of the new hospital.
So you mentioned the advancements in technology, and that’s certainly part of the hospital’s history since 1993 in terms of subspecialties and advancement in care. Was that something that was talked about with the city leading up to this new hospital was going to provide a foundation for a higher level of medical care in the region?
This was a main theme of the hospital leaders. It not only convinced the council and the city leaders, but it went a long way with winning the support of the larger area. They saw this as not only convenient care right around the corner from where they live, right in the middle of the city, and convenient to everything, but they saw that this was going to mean better care and more advanced care. I’m sure that was a theme of the hospital leaders and I’m sure that was embraced by the folks that saw it.
Was there any talk, or did the city or hospital leaders present a kind of medical center and the hospital as an anchor in a regional medical campus the way it has developed in the twenty-plus years since it opened?
Certainly was presented as a medical campus, no doubt about that. If you read the PD-MC ordinance it was set up to be a campus and not just a hospital, if you will. What is pleasantly surprising, I think, or has been pleasantly surprising is all of the new medical office and related uses that have popped up and grown up around the hospital. I mean, there are some 500,000 or 600,000 square feet of medical office space above the hospital—maybe counting the Tompkins-Martin medical building that attaches to the hospital in the back. Let me tell you, a health care and medical campus is what we were looking for at that location. We had Mary Washington College campus on one side of Route 1. We really wanted to have Mary Washington Hospital regional campus on the other side. That’s largely what we got. The alternative was unacceptable and I think everybody bought in to that, for the most part. Very few voices of difference, as I recall. [01:00:00]
What did you, and what did the city, see as the most important milestones of the organization in the decade after the hospital?
The continued growth of medical services and additional specialists. As a matter of fact, that’s still a major topic: more and more specialists continuing to come in here and offer more and more services to this region and this growing population. That’s really the big story for the hospital expanding and beginning its expansion. It has continued and spawned so much additional development around it. I don’t know that you will see or find many people who will have only negatives about this. They may have one or two negatives about what it looks like on this angle and not that angle, but I don’t think you’re going to find a handful of people who thought it was the wrong decision. I just don’t. It would be interesting to go back to read the letters to the editor and who wrote them and what their angles were to object to this. I suspect some may regret writing those letters because of what the hospital has meant to the region and how well it has done. Now, I know there are people that talk about emergency room, emergency room care, and all of that. There may be one or two aspects of it that people are not endeared to. But let me tell you, the greater story is the fact that some 300,000 people in this region now have excellent, advanced medical technology at their disposal. Look how easy it is to get in and out of this hospital. Can you imagine it being this easy to go to any hospital north of here? No. It has spoiled us, really, for it to be so easy to get in and out of a hospital and essentially to have a hospital in your neighborhood. This is a regional hospital campus in a neighborhood setting. It is adjacent to a college and adjacent to a downtown that’s pretty much very, very attractive and very, very desirable in terms of wanting to visit. [01:03:00] It’s a good story and I can’t think of any negatives that have persisted at all.
Was there any concern from the city about the parking garage, which I think they referenced as one of the first, if not the first in the city?
First one. It’s a huge garage. There are 1,000 spaces in it. I think most people view the parking garage at the hospital—you know, it’s not an architectural gem, but necessary. Most people viewed the parking garage as necessary and smart because of the limited amount of real estate for additional development in general. Concentrate the parking in a garage, four levels, five levels, and leave the additional space and the additional real estate, to build up additional medical offices and medical-related services. That’s the smart thing to do. That was another smart move. I think most people think that. Of course they placed the garage in an area where it is not the most prominent location on the hospital campus. Certainly parking at the hospital has always been an issue. If you think it was an issue with the new garage, you ought to try to find parking spaces when the hospital was at the old location. That was really tough.
One of the things that I’ve heard hospital leaders, from physicians to administrators to board members, talk about is that health care involves more than just hospital-based care, and that the organization recognized that. And I’m wondering if you have recollections about the way that the organization might have tried to work with the city to think about providing access to health care for people who may not have been able to afford it, may not have been insured, and to provide kind of public health as well as this advanced hospital.
I don’t recall as much of that, but I always remember that a part of all of the hospital’s services was to have that type of outreach. I also think that that was sort of a partnership between MediCorp and the health department in the city, but it was seamless. [01:06:00] Then of course since those early days, the opportunities for offering additional assistance to people, individuals who may not be able to afford that type of special care, or just care at all, has only grown in and around the hospital with the Moss Free Clinic, which of course was inspired by Dr. Moss. Everybody loved Dr. Moss and he himself, the doctor, the man, and the person he was, inspired volunteers and giving to help that happen. Other facilities like that that have grown up around the hospital in some of the spaces that were preserved for additional development and that has increased those opportunities. Is there a continued need for that? Yeah. But I don’t think it was something that the hospital ever took for granted or turned their back on. And I don’t think people believed that.
With your background in planning, was it logical, did it seem—you weren’t planning director when it opened, but then the Moss Free Clinic has now ended up on the hospital campus because I think the building opened in 2007.
I’ve been here for four years since then. The Moss Free Clinic was down over next to the old hospital before then. I think it was more of a function of needing to expand because the population expanded and the people needing the services expanded. The opportunity to have the Moss Clinic adjacent to the hospital is not a bad idea. It’s still very, very accessible and approachable and convenient. I don’t think there was an issue of relocating the Moss Clinic from over near the old hospital near Carl’s Ice Cream to a site next to the new hospital. I don’t recall the specifics of this, but I’m fairly certain the hospital made provisions to allow that to happen, maybe by giving the ground or by providing the ground, or by easing that move. [01:09:00] Certainly a lot of people helped that process, including Carl D. Silver, obviously. I don’t know that there were any other issues associated with that. It needed to expand: there were volunteers and financial support coming in, mainly because people believed in Dr. Moss and what he had meant to the community for so long. It was an easy thing to do. I don’t think there’s any friction associated with that. If there were friction associated with that within the hospital because of the clientele, I suspect that got one or two letters to the editor, but like most things, that was over with in a week.
Now, I think this still may have also been after you as city planner, but do you recall discussions working with the hospital on questions of transportation like the FRED bus so that there was transportation in terms of access to the hospital and health care associated with it?
Another story of cooperation. I’m not exactly sure who the discussion was with, but I was part of the beginning of FRED with Marvin Bollinger, Eric Nelson, and Becky Martin, the first FRED director. Now it’s Wendy Kimball, who worked in the planning department at the time. What we did in order to grow FRED, Fredericksburg Regional Transit, and to make FRED a reality is we went to large employment bases like the hospital, the college, GEICO, and the mall to try to get large contributions to sustain it, get it up and running, and grow the bus fleet. The answer that I recall from Mary Washington—as a matter of fact, I suspect they were one of the first ones to support it. I believe they put up twice as much as we had asked them to do. I think we asked them for $25,000 and they did $50,000. I’m not exactly sure about that, but I know that they did more than we asked, and they were happy to do it. Of course they saw it as a way of making people more mobile in getting to its service. It was something that they embraced. They didn’t fight it. That’s my recollection of it. I hope that’s true.
One controversy I’ve heard about it was a discussion about the Thurman Brisben Center opening on the hospital campus, and some discussion of land being made available for it. Do you recall that? [01:12:00]
Vaguely. Again, you really are testing my memory here. A review of the minutes of the time and of the discussion of Thurman Brisben, would probably parrot this out. The location of the Thurman Brisben homeless shelter on property owned by and located around the main new hospital grew out of the fact that Thurman Brisben was looking for a location and couldn’t find an area that wanted them. It was a very, very acrimonious and painful process, as I recall. As a matter of fact, it pitted neighborhoods against caregivers, almost like this issue with Micah right now, a little bit. The solution, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, was to relocate the homeless shelter to an industrial park, which is where they are now. Obviously they’re in an industrial park and there aren’t many residential neighbors to speak of. But before that, they were looking to go into places that were closer to residential neighborhoods. No matter what you believe, there was always the “not in my backyard” attitudes. Equal to that “not in my backyard attitude” that perhaps caused Thurman Brisben a lot of anxiety and pain as they were trying to just serve people, needy people, was the devotion of the clergy in this community. Let me tell you, I remember the clergy really stepping up to the plate and saying, “Look, everybody needs some help, and you need to be more compassionate.” I think that won out. I believe that MediCorp and the hospital, in trying to help defuse that situation, I think may have even talked about the possibility of a site near the new hospital. [01:15:00] I don’t know the details of it and it didn’t work out there. That sort of gives you an overall idea of the way the hospital worked. There is a problem, they think they can help solve it, and I think they probably at least helped to defuse the problem to a degree until we found some other place that was okay with just about everyone involved. I believe they did offer it up or there were serious discussions about it. I don’t remember why it didn’t work, but it probably was a situation whereby they were able to get the other location and be in the other location more expeditiously than they would have been at the new hospital site. It was clearly a situation whereby the hospital was trying to assist. It was a community effort and I think somebody may have suggested it. Rather than just dismiss it right away, I think it was given some discussion. I don’t remember all the discussion, but it was given due consideration.
Over the course of your career as city planner, it sounds like very good working relationships between the city and MediCorp and the hospital and now Mary Washington Healthcare—all the different names, same organization. In your experience in talking with other city planners and perhaps at conferences, regional planning meetings, did you find that the relationship between the city and Mary Washington Hospital was normal, abnormal, better than others? How did you talk about it with other city planners?
I’m sure I told it many times and whenever I would tell the story of how MediCorp and Mary Washington Hospital expanded, it was a story that I was proud of. I put it in the context of the way I put it here: they were hemmed in by a neighborhood and they needed to expand. We were glad they had to expand, we helped them expand, and facilitated that expansion with the ordinance. Look what it’s done for the city; look what it meant to the city beforehand and look what it means to the city now. That was the context that I would’ve told them. I don’t remember really hearing any planners or directors of other localities when I would talk about this have any particular issues with the Potomac Hospital, MCV, UVA, Martha Jefferson or other hospitals. It was largely a positive with minor negatives along the way, but what doesn’t have those little growing pains and problems as you’re expanding? [01:18:00] But again, there was very little alternative that would’ve been acceptable to the city other than to find a place to keep them here near the center of the city. Thank goodness they did.
What would you say are the things you would most want the public to know about Mary Washington Hospital, now Mary Washington Healthcare, that might not be common knowledge, that you learned over the years through your work with the city?
Let’s see. I knew there was some of this going on, but the board of the hospital and MediCorp is made up of a whole lot of our friends and neighbors that you might see at church or you might see at a golf tournament or downtown or in a restaurant. A lot of these folks have quietly helped to orchestrate and navigate a huge regional complex that’s really had significant impacts on a region and on people individually. Unless you knew half a dozen members of this board, you wouldn’t know that they ever served in that capacity. That, to me, has always been a good back story to the hospital: it is the people that make up the boards, help to shape the policies, help to shape where and how they relocated, and what they concentrate on in their growth. It always comes back, seemingly, to the people that worked to make it happen. Some of people just sort of quietly went about their work without making any noise about “look what I did.” That’s probably the best story. The obvious story is the fact that it employs over 4,000 people in the region. Its payroll is probably north of $100 or $200 million or more. All the medical specialties and technologies that has been brought to bear in little old Fredericksburg—Fredericksburg is still less than 30,000 people. It is in a region pushing 300,000 or more, but the city is only ten and a half square miles and about 28,000 people. This is a diamond and a gem in the midst of a city that’s really a small city, a very small city. [01:21:00] It’s a good story to keep a hospital committed to a small city when many of its growing pains are large and more urban than a small city like Fredericksburg.
As you mentioned, it’s a good story. What are some of the other comparable stories, good stories about your career in city planning that go along with keeping the hospital in the city? And they don’t necessarily have to be connected, but what are some of the others that are high points in your career?
The best thing about my existence personally and professionally in Fredericksburg has been my relationships with the folks that have led the city, and principally Mayor Lawrence A. Davies. To a degree all the other mayors, but Mayor Lawrence A. Davies principally because I not only had a professional relationship with him—he was the mayor from ’76 to ’96, and he was the mayor when I was hired—but he is one of those guys who, there’s a good chance he was on a number of the boards of all of these agencies doing things for other people quietly. He did that quietly and he continues to do that quietly. So does his wife, by the way, even more quietly, but with compassion and purpose always. My relationship with former mayor Davies and his wife Janice, and people like him and her, have given me stories that I can tell proudly to other planners, to my mom, and to my brothers and sisters back in Martinsville who may not have believed that there was a black mayor in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the center of the Civil War, in the 1970s through the 1990s. Through my relationship with Mayor Davies and Janice Davies, I’ve cultivated these walking tours of history in downtown Fredericksburg that tell the stories of prominent black families in Fredericksburg, from the 1800s through today. One of the reasons why I still walk thirty, forty blocks downtown telling those stories with thirty, forty people walking with me is because some of those stories are so inspiring. [01:24:00] Some are as inspiring as Mayor Lawrence Davies: he came to the city, got elected, and helped move it into the twenty-first century. But there were folks like Mayor Davies in 1840 in downtown Fredericksburg: the Richards family, for example. I don’t know if you remember them. This was a free black family of Maria and Adolph Richards. Adolph had migrated to Fredericksburg by way of an island in the Caribbean, Guadalupe. He had come here as a free black and he never was a slave. He actually owned property in Fredericksburg and lived at the foot of George Street, where George Street intersects with Sophia Street. Then right across Sophia is the municipal parking lot and the river. On a fifty-foot lot there, from 1840 to 1850 lived a family of free blacks called the Richards. They had a daughter named Fanny Richards. They had five children. Fanny Richards was the youngest and was born in 1840 in Fredericksburg. In 1840 it was illegal to educate blacks, free or slave. In fact, there were penalties put in place by the state legislature: if you were caught educating or trying to teach a black, free or slave, to read or write, you’d be punished, fined or jailed. The punishment for other blacks doing it versus whites doing it was more severe. Fanny Richards saw this. Maria and Adolph Richards, who had never been slaves, were devoted to educating their children and more devoted to educating their children than just about anything. They were willing to fight the establishment to have their children educated. Fanny Richards, as a little kid, saw this because her older brother John Richards was sent by his mother to Washington, DC to be educated because he couldn’t get educated here legally, in a southern state. In Washington, DC, he could. Of course the laws of that time were such that if you did that, you were not allowed to return. You were expatriated. And if you tried to come back, you would be arrested. [01:27:00] In the 1840s, there were illegal free schools in downtown Fredericksburg where some of the free black families, the Richards and the Baptiste families, were conducting schools in their basements while the police weren’t looking. They had the schools to educate the children of free blacks and slaves and to teach them to read and write. They were primarily teaching them to read so that they could participate better in church services. Back then, you couldn’t even go to church and you couldn’t meet in a group as a free black or slave without a white person present. In fact, it was illegal to do that. In order to go to church, you had to hire a white overseer to attend the church with you. But Fanny Richards saw all of this happening to her siblings, her older siblings, and saw how her mother and father had to sneak around to educate them and had to send their children away. She may never have seen her older brother again. When Adolph Richards died in 1850, Maria Richards had put up with this all her life. She moved her daughter Fanny to Canada and then settled in Detroit, Michigan. That’s a story that is repeated over and over by families from Fredericksburg to Canada to Detroit, Michigan, to other places in Michigan. That was to the north and education for blacks wasn’t illegal. Although at the time, education for blacks was illegal in a lot of Southern states. Fanny Richards saw all of this happening to her and her older brothers and sisters. When her mother and her moved and settled in Detroit, Michigan, Fanny Richards, I think, was ten or eleven. She left here in 1850, 1851. Fanny Richards became the first black public schoolteacher in Detroit and sued the Detroit segregated public school system in 1869 when she was, I think, twenty-something years old. She sued to desegregate their schools, won with the help of others, taught for fifty years, and now there’s a monument to Fanny Richards in downtown Detroit that talked about her accomplishments in education. She also was a Sunday school teacher at the famed Second Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. [01:30:00] It’s famous and it probably helped with the Underground Railroad of slaves as well. But she was born in downtown Fredericksburg and lived the first eight, ten years of her life at the corner of Sophia and George Street. She became this huge mega-education star in the Detroit public school system. She even opened her own school for a while after seeing all of what went on with her brothers and sisters and her mother, who was ridiculed, harassed, and watched for trying to educate their children. That kind of story is the kind of story that Lawrence Davies and Janice Davies remind me of. Ever since I’ve ever known them, from 1980 on, all they’ve ever done, ever done, and they continue to do, is help other people. They help other people cope with sickness and help other people deal with life issues. That, to me, probably brings back most feelings for me about my existence and my time here in Fredericksburg. That’s the part that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. Other things have happened that’s good and bad, but those are the types of things that I recall and that I would’ve never wanted to have missed. I’m lucky that way. There are other people like Mayor Davies out there, but very few comparable to him in terms of what he does to help the community. And he still is doing it. He’s still doing it. He’s up in age and probably has health issues of his own, but he’ll never tell you about them because that’s just the way he was brought up. I was brought up a lot like that too. You don’t complain. It could be worse. I call it the old days, or the way it used to be. It’s not like that much more anymore. I remember that, and I remember that about my mom and my dad too. I mean, they didn’t complain about things no matter how bad it was. They reminded me a lot of Mayor Davies and his wife. They didn’t complain about things and they helped out. Hopefully that’s what I learned most from my associations and my job. That’s what I remember most fondly. [01:33:00]
Part of what you just discussed is the history of racial inequality in this region, and nationwide, but particularly in the south, and those who struggled to end it and to change it. Now, when Mayor Davies moved here, the hospital was still segregated.
Not just the hospital, neighborhoods.
All organizations, such as hospitals, schools, institutions. Were there any discussions that you remember about the process by which the hospital ended its segregation policy?
You know, I don’t know about that. That is something I should know more about. What I do know is how churches dealt with the issue of slavery and the issue of allowing its first black members. I know about things like that because I have books and books about the history of all the churches that I’ve collected over the years. One church divided because of the issue of slavery, that’s a very compelling and interesting story. One church—I hesitate to call the name of it because I don’t want to shine any negative light on anyone because this was a long time ago. In the mid-1800s, actually before the mid-1800s, one church in the city of Fredericksburg separated over the issue of slavery. It had a section that was for slavery and a section within their congregation against slavery. The section that was for slavery broke off from the rest of the congregation, built a new church about a block away from the old church, and called itself Fredericksburg, the church, south, even though it was one block north of the original church. How do you like that? I hesitate to call names, although I do tell the story in my walk around the city. It was Fredericksburg Methodist Church. The church that broke off was for slavery and called itself Fredericksburg Methodist South. It was one block north of the parent church, on the site of the BB&T building right now, where BB&T is, the old savings and loan. I don’t know how long you’ve been here, but it used to be a large house at the corner of Prince Edward and George, right there beside where the BB&T building is. That house was moved around the corner to Charles, right behind BB&T now. It’s the Lawyer’s Title Company now. [01:36:00] I was here when the house was being moved, but that was the location of Fredericksburg Methodist South in the 1840s, I believe. Another church divided congregationally because of having to accept its first black member in the 1960s. Happens to be the mother of the first black judge in Fredericksburg. He has passed on now, Judge Scott. I don’t know if you know him, but I think his mother was Maude or Mamie Scott, maybe Mamie Scott. I’m not sure. He has passed on, but she may be still living. She will recall this. It was her in the early 1960s. John wasn’t born yet, I don’t think—Judge John Scott. But I actually discuss it from the slaves’ perspective all the way through the civil rights movement in the ‘60s. When you have access to deeds and deed restrictions in the circuit court, you see lots of things that you are surprised about, and yet you shouldn’t be so surprised at it if you lived part of it, or if your parents lived part of it and they told you about it. There are deed restrictions in some of the deeds that are currently recorded in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Stafford that of course are pretty horrendous in terms of the language. An example, “You can raise pigs and chickens, but blacks can’t live here.” That sort of thing. They’re all illegal now, but they still exist in the deeds. This is a community that has come a long way, but there are still a lot of challenges out there. I think Mayor Davies would tell you the same thing. Many strides or any advancements that have been made, including the hiring of me in 1980, were, I’m certain, ninety percent or perhaps seventy-five percent or more because of the strides that Mayor Davies brought this city into. He’s such a good leader and an honest and a caring man. You cannot not appreciate what he does for all people. [01:39:00] He clearly paved the way for not only me, but for lots of other people. But if you asked him that, he will minimize it. He’s the only one who minimizes it. You can ask anybody else and they will tell you probably what I’m telling you. I don’t know if you’ve met Mayor Davies. He’s probably at the hospital every day visiting somebody. Maybe that is where you met him? He goes over and he visits probably every day or every other day.
We did an interview.
You did? This is a guy who—they don’t come along like him very often. His wife is equally interesting and caring. I’ve known her and gotten to know her better over the years as well. We worked on some interesting history projects together.
Those were largely my questions on the hospital and Mary Washington Healthcare. The way I like to end these interviews is to ask a last question. It’s actually two questions. One, is there anything that I should’ve asked that I didn’t? And two, is there anything you’d like to add?
No, I think we covered it. And that is primarily because I’ve got to get back downstairs and get to work. I tend to rattle on and on and on about stories that interest me and that I remember. I’m sure most people are like that. I appreciate the opportunity to tell some of these stories, but many of these you probably already heard. They’re important stuff.
Thank you very much.
All right. Thank you.
[End of interview]