Austin, Travis County
Listed September 12, 2019
Roberts Clinic, opened in 1937 by Dr. Edward L. Roberts, was the first medical facility in Austin with hospital rooms open exclusively for the treatment African American patients. In the Jim Crow era, racial discrimination and segregation affected the quality of medical care African Americans received in public health care facilities while African American physicians were professionally-subordinated by white doctors. Proprietary clinics, like Roberts Clinic, that operated across the South from the 1930s-1950s provided African American doctors professional autonomy to practice on patients who were treated without the humiliation of segregationist policies. As hospitals integrated in the 1950s and 1960s, these independent facilities closed. Roberts, a Meharry Medical College graduate, opened Roberts Clinic in an East Austin residential neighborhood in 1937. The two-story Colonial Revival building had a medical facility on the first floor, and the Roberts Family lived on the second floor. Until 1967, Dr. Roberts administered treatment for preventative, acute, and chronic illnesses; performed minor surgeries; and offered labor and delivery services for the city’s African American community. Roberts Clinic is listed in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for Ethnic Heritage: Black and Health/Medicine as an excellent local example of small proprietary medical clinics built by African American physicians during the period of segregated medical practices in the United States. It is the only remaining example of this property type extant in Austin, Texas.