On May 13, Carolinas HealthCare Foundation hosted an intimate ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Robert Haywood Morrison Gardens on Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The gardens honor a $250,000 gift from the Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation in memory of Robert Morrison, a distinguished Charlotte businessman, environmentalist, and philanthropist.
Leaders representing Carolinas HealthCare System, the Robert Haywood Morrison Foundation, the History Trail Board, and Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation gathered to dedicate the garden and unveil a statue of Jane Renwick Smedberg Wilkes – the founder of the precursor hospital, St. Peters, to Charlotte Memorial Hospital (now Carolinas Medical Center). The statue was created by artist Wendy Ross, an internationally known portrait sculptor whose work has been featured in the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol. It was funded by a gift from Carolinas HealthCare System and is part of Charlotte’s “History Trail.”
Many descendants of Jane Wilkes also attended the event to commemorate their ancestor for her compassion and role as a pioneer of modern healthcare. Jane Wilkes, arrived in Charlotte with her husband John Wilkes in 1854. Beginning in 1875 she oversaw efforts to build Charlotte’s first two civilian hospitals: The Charlotte Home and Hospital of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which opened in 1876 as the first civilian hospital in the state, and the Good Samaritan Hospital—one of the first hospitals in the country dedicated to the care of African-American citizens. Jane Wilkes dedicated her life to raising funds for these hospitals and remained an advocate for healthcare causes in the community for the rest of her life.
“The Robert Haywood Morrison Gardens are now positioned as a gateway to the Carolinas Medical Center campus and as a place of respite for our patients,” said Michael Tarwater, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System. And this statue, which is a focal point of the Gardens, serves as Jane’s legacy to the health and wellness of our community.”