Isabella Garnett

Daniel and Hannah Garnett were among the first Blacks to live in Evanston. Their daughter, Isabella Garnett (1872-1948), initially earned a nursing degree but then went to medical school and became one of the first Black female physicians in Illinois. Because Evanston hospitals did not treat Black patients, Garnett and her husband founded the Evanston Sanitarium and Training School on the upper floor of their home in 1914. Ten years after opening the sanitarium, Garnett’s husband suddenly died. Garnett renamed the sanitarium “Butler Hospital” (after her husband) and went on to manage it on her own. The Black population in Evanston grew to over 5,000 residents but the only Evanston hospital where they could be treated was Butler Hospital. In 1930 Butler Hospital merged with The Booker T. Washington Association of Evanston and was renamed The Community Hospital of Evanston. Garnett served as its superintendent and at the age of 76, she she died in the hospital which she had founded.

Why this stop? The Central station is across the street from Evanston Hospital, one of the town’s hospitals which did not treat Black patients in the first half of the 20th century.

Connect — Go to 1918 Asbury Avenue to see the house which had been both home to Isabella Garnett as well as the Evanston Sanitarium and Training School.