Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dr. Willis Roberts' Contribution to Mobile's growth

example of surveyor

Mobile Hospital

During Mobile’s growing phase of the 1830’s, Dr. Roberts, a skilled surveyor and cartographer, took advantage of the local booming economy. He was responsible for some of the early maps of the Mobile area, and also served on several building committees. In his day, Willis Roberts was nationally known as one who demanded the finest and the best. [i] Roberts’ influence prompted the hiring of the James brothers, preeminent architects of the period, to build four colossal Greek revival buildings in Mobile: the Mobile Hotel, the Presbyterian Church, the Mobile City Hospital and Barton Academy. These four world-class buildings are the foundation of Mobile’s reputation for historical architecture. Although the first building was destroyed by fire, the latter three are still standing. ii.

As first superintendent of the newly built hospital, he tried to introduce women attendants into the City Hospital on May 3rd, 1831 with a belief that women were an important part of the workforce. Dr. Roberts wrote innumerable pleas to the city aldermen and mayor for women attendants to nurse the women patients and look after certain details of hospital routine. The pleas were unsuccessful at the time. [iii]

[i] The Knickerbocker Magazine. New York, Vol XXV No. 5 May 1845, page 379.[ii] Isbell records, 910 Government Street, Mobile, Alabama.[iii] Mobile Register, Sunday, March 11, 1925. “City Hospital Dates Inception back 200 years.”

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