December 5, 2020

Nina Littlejohn – “Founder of John-Nina Hospital”

Once upon a time in Black Entrepreneur History was a woman named Nina Littlejohn, born in Cherokee County, South Carolina to parents Emanuel and Alice on February 2, 1879.

Being raised under her farmer parents who owned their own land, she knew the trade, however, ended up doing something much different than her parents when she became an adult and married, knowing well the value of ownership.

Nina and her entrepreneur husband, Worth Littlejohn, moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina, and had a home built on North Dean Street. Her husband was a barbershop owner, catering to only white clients.

It was with the money earned from these clients that Nina, with the support of her husband, founded the John-Nina Hospital in 1913, putting the money back into the black community.

The John-Nina (Littlejohn) Hospital was the 1st licensed medial facility servicing only African Americans in the city of Spartanburg; (the first medical non-licensed facility being founded three years prior called The People’s Hospital in Spartanburg near Mt. Moriah Baptist Church).

Being a member of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, she was able to pull strings politically while her husband was able to gain secure financial support through his business contacts. This resulted in the 2 story John Nina Hospital being built adjacent to their home.

African Americans now had a fully equipped medical facility with the latest medical equipment and operating room with 2 wards and a maximum capacity of 16 people.

Not only did the John-Nina Littlejohn Hospital take care of African Americans medically, there was a full garden for fresh food out back to maintain food security and nutrition for the patients.

To further her business knowledge and savviness, Nina Littlejohn enrolled in business classes at Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

It was in 1932 that the John-Nina Hospital became part of the Spartanburg General Hospital and opened a special section for African American patients only, which was exactly what Nina Littlejohn wanted.

She believed that all of her efforts should be targeted where she knew it needed it the most, her African American community which had always had the bottom of the barrel services since they got to America, such as having to be treated in the basements of white facilities and such.

Although John-Nina Hospital would be part of Spartanburg General, African Americans would still have their top of the line treatment – not in a basement.

Today, the Littlejohn’s hospital building was bought by the Callahams and is now the building called the Callahams-Hicks Funeral Home, with thousands of square footage added to it.

Nina Littlejohn died in 1963 and buried in the Lincoln Memorial Garden.


Sources: SC Encyclopedia and Go Upstate