Matilda Evans House – 2027 Taylor St.
Monday, January 8th 2018
The house at 2027 Taylor Street was once the residence of Matilda Arabella Evans, the first female African-American physician in Columbia. Built sometime between 1910 and 1919, the vernacular house went through a myriad of early owners, most of whom were employees of the nearby Southern Railroad Company, before the Evans family occupied the residence1. In 1928, the Evans family moved from their home on Two Notch Road to this location and descendants owned or occupied the home until 2005. For years, the Matilda Evans House was the center of African-American medical and philanthropic life in Columbia2.
Located in a predominately African-American neighborhood and a block west of Benedict and Allen Colleges, this property has played an important role in Columbia and South Carolina’s African-American culture since its association with Evans in 1928. However, from its construction until its purchase by the Evans family, the house was home to many predominately white families that earned their livelihood working on the nearby railroad and in local shops. During that period, these residents worked in occupations such as hostler, freight agent, and secretary master for the Southern Railroad.
The Evans family moved from its previous residence on Two Notch Road to 2027 Taylor Street when Matilda Evans’ niece, Jessie L. Hill, purchased the property. From 1928 to 1935, Columbia City Directories listed both Hill and Evans as primary residents of the home. After Evans’ death in 1935, Hill continued to own the property until 1997, when it was deeded to Hill’s niece, Etta Trottie. In 2005, Trottie’s nieces and nephews sold the property to Robert B. Lewis, a Columbia attorney with experience in adaptive use of historic properties.
Dr. Matilda Arabella Evans
A physician and philanthropist known to both Columbia’s black and white communities, Dr. Matilda Arabella Evans was born in Aiken, South Carolina, in 1872 and formally educated at Oberlin College and the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania with specialties in obstetrics, gynecology, and surgery. Evans was Columbia’s first African-American woman to practice medicine and the second African-American woman to practice medicine in the state of South Carolina3. In 1901, Dr. Evans established the Taylor Lane Hospital, which was both a hospital and training school for nurses. Undaunted when the building was destroyed by fire, Evans started another, larger hospital facility, St. Luke’s Hospital and Training School for Nurses. St. Luke’s closed in 1918 allowing Dr. Evans to serve in the Medical Service Corps of the United States during World War I4.
Dr. Evans’ role in Columbia’s history goes beyond medicine. Evans founded a weekly newspaper, The Negro Health Journal of South Carolina, to educate families throughout the state on proper health care procedures. She was instrumental in the establishment of Linenwood Park, a park for African-American children that boasted a swimming pool and recreational center located at the corner of Two Notch Road and Beltline Boulevard. Dr. Evans also served as the President of the Congaree Medical Association and the Palmetto State Medical Association.
Dr. Evans used her property as a medical clinic until a hospital could for Columbia’s African American citizens. She also attended to white female patients at this clinic who wished to keep their medical problems private and outside their social circles. With the fees Evans received from her white patients, she built clinics and gave free care to African Americans, especially children.
By the 1930s, 2027 Taylor Street had become a meeting place for black business, religious and community leaders to discuss problems associated with segregation. These meetings promoted the creation of the Columbia Clinic Association.
Learn more about Dr. Evans at columbiacityofwomen.com.
Located on the north side of Taylor Street only feet from the sidewalk, 2027 Taylor Street is a simple vernacular-built two-story home that reflects the Colonial Revival style of late 19th/early 20th century homes. Originally, the front elevation consisted of a flat porch roof supported by three round Tuscan columns—which also served as the second-story porch (as seem in the mid-1920s picture taken by local photographer Richard Samuel Roberts), a brick porch foundation, and a round pediment over the porch stairs that marked the entry of the house. Today, a hipped asphalt roof has replaced the original porch roof.
The house is predominately rectangular shaped (as shown in the 1919 Sanborn Fire Insurance Company map at right) with an asphalt-covered, clipped-gable roof and a bargeboard gable facing south. The structure is two bays wide at the south/front elevation and five bays deep, with an enclosed two-story porch on the north/rear elevation. The siding is the original wood clapboard that has been painted white. Throughout the house the windows are double-hung two-over-two with green shutters. The foundation is clay brick piers and the chimneys are also constructed of clay brick. The front door is a four-panel recessed wood door with decorative glass transom. By the time it was purchased from the family in 2005, the house was suffering from disrepair and covered in white vinyl siding. Under Lewis’s ownership, the siding was removed and many of the original features were preserved.
1Columbia City Directories, 1910-1914.
2Kathryn Silva. National Register of Historic Places nomination; Evans, Matilda Arabella Home. Written October 29, 2006.
3Darlene Clark Hine, “The Corporeal and Ocular Veil: Dr. Matilda A. Evans (1872-1935) and the Complexity of Southern History,” The Journal of Southern Medicine, (Vol. LXX, No.1, Feb.2004) 23.
4Palmetto Leader, Columbia, SC. March 22, 1930.
This property is now for sale. It is a local landmark, so the Bailey Bill tax abatement is available, and it is potentially eligible for state and federal tax credits. Contact the listing agent: Charles Adams, at Osmium Realty, 803.800.1145 for more details.
City of Women Honoree
Matilda Arabella Evans, M.D.
Matilda Arabella Evans was the first licensed woman physician in South Carolina and provided access to free health care for several generations of African Americans in the early twentieth century.