During the Civil War, Roper Hospital unofficially became a Confederate hospital over the protests of its trustees, who demanded that the hospital remain open to treat lunatics and the sick poor.
Roper Hospital originated with an 1845 bequest by Colonel Thomas Roper to the Medical Society of South Carolina, which he charged with creating a hospital to treat “all such sick, maimed and diseased paupers as need surgical or medical aid . . . without regard to complexion, religion or nation.” Additional funding from the city, district, and state as well as private contributions supplemented the Roper bequest. Construction began in Charleston on the corner of Queen and Mazyck Streets in 1850, and Roper Hospital admitted its first regular patients on February 12, 1856. The facility also served as the teaching hospital for the Medical College and the summer medical schools of the city.
During the Civil War, Roper Hospital unofficially became a Confederate hospital over the protests of its trustees, who demanded that the hospital remain open to treat lunatics and the sick poor. In February 1865 the federal government seized the Roper building for its own use, occupying it until November 11, 1865.
In 1873 the city council leased Roper for use as a city hospital. The building was severely damaged by a cyclone in 1885 and then was wrecked by an earthquake the following year. The building was eventually repaired in 1891, but inadequate finances prevented its operation. The city withdrew its support in favor of building its own hospital, Memorial Hospital, in 1888.
A second Roper Hospital building opened on the corner of Calhoun and Lucas Streets on February 19, 1906, and was operated by the Medical Society under contract with Charleston City Council. The Medical Society assumed full ownership in 1932. A third Roper Hospital was constructed on Calhoun Street and opened on April 15, 1946. Roper Hospital continued to expand and refine its patient care and medical services, including the addition of a rehabilitation hospital and a doctors’ office building. In 1998 Roper Hospital affiliated with CareAlliance Health Services, a corporation that manages Roper and St. Francis Hospitals.
Waring, Joseph I. A Brief History of Roper Hospital. Charleston, S.C.: Board of Commissioners of Roper Hospital, 1964.