The story of the Trivette Clinic, like the story of Davis Hospital, is the story of the man who founded it, William Amos Trivette.
The building must have looked out of place in the Hamptonville area, northern Iredell County when it was built in 1932. In a very rural community populated by family farms and wooden farmhouses, the clinic was a two story, modern brick building with the rarest of features in the area- a finished basement.
Even today, the building seem incongruous to it’s location, and looking at it from the road, it seems it must have been transported to the area from some distant city.
William Amos Trivette was born in 1888 in the same community his clinic would later be built. His parents Amos Wilson Trivette and Adeline Ann (Crater) Trivette were not very different from their neighbors- modest farmers who worked the land. There are no detailed accounts of William’s childhood, but one would assume it was in rhythm with that of his contemporaries, being ruled by planting time and harvesting time, the seasons and the sun.
Whatever his motivations for pursuing medicine, they are lost to the ages. As for how, according to one of the current owners of the clinic building, the help of Dr. L. P. Somers, a prominent local physician may have played a part. Not hard to believe considering Dr. Somers, upon his death was said to have been a benefactor to 31 people in the area who he put through college.
We do know William received an excellent education, whoever paid for it. His earliest enrolment seems to be in Elon University between Greensboro and Durham.
Shortly after that in 1912 at age 24, he may have spent some time at Baltimore Medical College or at least toyed with the idea, as it was announced in a local paper he would be traveling there to continue his education. If he did, the school would have changed dramatically after William arrived, as it was taken over by the University of Maryland Medical College the very next year. This may have something to do with his departure from that institution (if he ever actually went there), as the next time we hear of him in 1916 he graduated from the Medical School of Virginia in Richmond, VA at 28 years old. This would be the college today known as VCU. Since that institution is a four year college, I’m inclined to believe that William never actually made it to Baltimore, and something must have made him change his plans.
A year earlier in 1915, a newspaper article proclaimed that he would be moving to the Lovelace community in Wilkes county to “practice his profession”. It’s likely an area he knew as he had spent some time as a teacher in Wilkes county before beginning college.
He wouldn’t have been there long when the United States entered World War I.
Like many young men at the time, he was drafted and served his country in Europe, being able to join in 1917 as an officer due to his education. On his draft card, he would claim exemption as a physician “needed in his profession”, but this would likely have made him only more desirable to the US Army.
His draft card, though also listing his home as “Jennings”, is from the draft board of Wilkes county, so he was still living likely living there in Lovelace when the war started.
As a young lieutenant he was at least lucky enough to be stationed at “Base Hospital No. 37” away from the front in Dartford, England. He would remain there until 1919 when his enlistment ended.
With the war over, it’s likely Dr Trivette had more money than he had ever had before. If he was frugal with his army wages he would have returned to North Carolina with enough to live comfortably for a time. It may be that this played a factor in being able to open his clinic later in life.
It’s unclear exactly where the doctor was and what he was doing between the end of the war and the opening of his clinic. He may have spent some time in Pennsylvania but eventually came home to the Hamptonville area, and may have also spent some time in Salisbury, as that’s where his future wife was from, and where he would be married to her in 1924.
His obituary would later state that during these years he was in practice, so wherever he was, he was still working as a doctor.
In 1932, the brick structure was completed just off the main road between Harmony and Union Grove at 290, Eagle Mills Road. While it was being built, Dr. Trivette was seeing patients in his own home.
The hospital was modern in all regards, with electricity, steam heat, a basement, and the latest is medical equipment. And, unlike other local physicians such as Dr Myers, Dr Trivette’s clinic was open not just for common ailments and births, but for surgeries such as appendicitis, x-rays, and even radium treatment, according to local newspapers. It would have been a very modern, very welcome addition to the local community.
Despite this new project, Dr Trivette would continue on with his education. A newspaper blurb documents him traveling to New York with his wife for six weeks in 1929 for post-graduate work. I have been unable to find exactly where this work took place.
The hospital was also notable for it’s size. Unlike Dr. Myers, who had only his wife for assistance, Dr. Trivette’s clinic would employ several other doctors and a handful of nurses, with living quarters for the nurses.
There are no publications from the clinic available, but I have been able to find the names of some of the employees from local newspapers.
One of these would have been Dr. L.C. Ogburn, a surgeon who I believe was hired in 1934.
Willie Mae Tulbert, who was Dr. Trivette’s niece, began working at the clinic in 1932 at 15 years old as a nurse’s aid of sorts. She worked at the clinic “night and day” for four years until she got married.
Dr. Trivette’s brother, Dr. Parks Trivette (full name Leandrew Parks Trivette), a dentist, was also employed, and did dental work in the basement.
Another newspaper announcement identifies operating RN Gertrude Dudley. She was definitely working at the clinic in 1935, but by the December of that year had taken a position a St. Peters Hospital in Charlotte and moved away.
One of the current owners of the clinic building believes that the first four nurses may have been named Helen, Polly, Letha, and Cindy. These names are written in the concrete that was poured for the basement floor with the date “1932”.
Dr. James Mebane Robertson was also one of the early employees, with the local paper announcing his arrival in July of 1933. Dr. Robertson was educated at Temple University and worked at Hamot Hospital in Erie, PA for a time after graduating before moving back home to NC. He would remain in the area after the clinic closed and go on to practice medicine in Harmony for many years where he was eventually elected mayor. According to one of the current owners of the clinic, Dr. Robertson planted the white pines along the road in front of the clinic.
Another small notice in the social section of the Statesville paper dated January, 1938 proclaims that “Miss Ila Hepler has returned to her old job at the Trivette Clinic“. It’s unknown what her old job would have been.
Dr. Trivette’s will and probate papers would also name employees due wages when he died. These papers list two nurses, a Mrs. Emery and a Miss Mulder. A Dr. Dolton is also listed, being owed $175 in salary. A Connie Pendergrass was owed a salary of $12 for an unknown position, and a Eugene Proctor was owed $4.34 in unpaid wages.
These would be the best years for the clinic. Despite being so rural, the work no doubt kept the staff busy, and a number of people alive today can trace their family back to births which took place at the clinic during this time. It was a scant few years.
Tragically, Dr. Trivette would become infected with influenza during the winter of 1938 and be admitted to Long’s Sanitorium in Statesville for the illness. He would never recover, dying there just before Christmas at age 50 of lobar pneumonia.
His funeral would be at Union Grove Baptist church, with his own nephew, O.T. Binkley assisting in the service. Afterwards, his body would be buried at Union Grove Methodist Church, now Union Grove UMC.
The clinic was unable to carry on without Dr. Trivette after his death, and would close in 1939. I’m unsure if anything was done with the property directly after that, but a man named Leo Rivers and his wife Mary seem to have bought the property in 1945.
Rivers seems something of a character. He was originally from Ware, Massachusetts, but somehow found his way to North Carolina around 1940, and before buying the property, married his wife Lavinia (who was from Newton) and ran an establishment on NC-70 about 11 miles west of Statesville called the “Clinker Brick Villa”, or “Clinker Brick Cafe”. As best I cant tell, this was a restaurant but also seemed to possibly be a night club of sorts, hosting dances and parties.
By at least 1950, Rivers has the clinic reopened as a rest home. During this time he would also work as a cook at several places, including Gray’s Cafe in Statesville, owned and apparently managed Fairview Cafe (also in Statesville-and which he would eventually put up for sale), and opened a “gift shop” called the Hobby Shop on NC-21. It doesn’t seem any of these ventures were especially successful, but the rest home continued on, with RIvers using the building for various things. During this time, newspaper accounts show his wife visiting such diverse places as Miami and England with her friends. One can’t help but wonder if Mr. Rivers had to work so hard to keep his wife up.
Leo Armand Rivers died in 1953, and according to his obituary, he and his wife only ran the rest home for eight years total. By the end of 1953, the clinic seems to have news owners. Sort of.
It’s at this point that V.C. Tooley takes over the property with his wife, and continues to run it as the Vendora (or possibly “Verndora” depending on which newspaper clipping is correct) Rest Home, but only until 1954, when they seemed to close it as well. What happens after that is a bit hard to flesh out. By 1959, Leo River’s wife is still or else is somehow again in possession of the building, calling it the “Rivers Rest Home” or the “River’s Rest Resort”. It’s hard to tell exactly what was going on during these years. It could be both the Tooleys and Rivers were renting the property from a third party. I am unsure of what sort of arrangement was made.
The property does pass into private ownership in 1961 and is used as a home. It must have deteriorated during those years, because when it was finally purchased by new owners in the late 1980’s, some remodel work had to be undertaken.
In 2010, the current owners bought the property and began slowly giving it a proper renovation.
They have transformed much of the property, renaming it “Harmony Gardens Nursery“. Today, in addition to buying trees, shrubs, and other plants, there are and have been “ghost tours” of the old clinic. As far as I know, the owners are still conducting these.
Probably not what Dr. Trivette could ever have imagined the result of his labors, but as we have seen from past posts, buildings have a way of losing their purpose and finding new ones if they survive long enough.
Unlike all it’s local contemporaries, and despite being a clinic/hospital for a much shorter time than either Dr. Myer’s small clinic in Harmony or the much more prestigious Davis Hospital in Statesville, fate has been kind to the Trivette Clinic. It is a piece of history that the local populations children and grandchildren will hopefully be able to enjoy, whatever it is now and whatever it might be next.