As the 1920s began, the town saw the population continue to grow to over 2,000 residents. The town saw many of its businesses begin to thrive. The great mill of the St. Lawrence Boom and Manufacturing Company had ceased operations and moved to other areas of the county and state. With the construction of the 1915 Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Railroad depot, Ronceverte continued to grow as a passenger service for the area.
The downtown saw the growth of a prosperous retail and supply industry. C. J. Casdolph established his produce company and began what was to become 13 grocery stores throughout the region. The Virginia Western Electric Power Plant was established in 1917 and continued to expand electricity throughout Ronceverte and the surrounding areas. Guy Vaughn and Milan Lemons operated their meat processing plants. The Greenbrier Laundry Company established a modern facility on the site of the old Ronceverte Steam Laundry on Monroe Avenue. Ronceverte was quickly growing to be the commerce center for the entire Greenbrier Valley.
Dr. DeVeber and Dr. Jackson continued to operate the hospital for a decade and a half. Then, the hospital was sold in 1922 to Dr. S. G. Love, and it was renamed Dr. Love’s Private Hospital. Dr. DeVeber continued to practice at his adjacent residence until his death in 1942. Unfortunately, in January 2004, the buildings of the Greenbrier General Hospital and Dr. DeVeber’s Day Hospital burned when a fire was started in the old nurses’ residence and spread to the two adjacent buildings.
Dr. Love had plans for a new facility, and a new brick hospital on Greenbrier Avenue was opened in 1925, when the staff and patients were moved from the old buildings to the new. This new hospital had 40 beds and was fireproof. Dr. Love was assisted by Dr. Woods until the facility was sold by Dr. Love in 1926.
The ladies of Ronceverte were also involved with medical care. Private nurses were hired to watch after patients. Citizen Nurses were also involved with the Red Cross where they volunteered during various crises to help with patient care within the community.
Photo 8: The Foglesong Sisters circa Spanish American War. Laura, Sarah, Mame, Florence and Ellen receive nurses training. Ellen is the grandmother of Sue Ella GeeMiano of Ronceverte.
In 1921, a fully accredited nursing program and training school was established and was approved by the State Board of Nurses. The original buildings on Main Street were used as the nursing students’ residence from 1925 until the nursing program and training school was closed in 1944.
Photo 9: Nurses of Greenbrier Valley Hospital 1929. Birdie Mae Shires is at the far right.
Photo 10: Nurses School Brochure 1924
One very special of these nurses was Ms. Birdie Mae McMann Shires. Birdie Mae went through the Nursing Program in 1924, graduating in 1927. For 51 years she was a nurse with the Greenbrier Valley Hospital until she retired in 1975. Her daughter, Kay Phinney, presented the historic landmarks commission the archives of her mother, which included a program directory for the nursing program from 1924. Prospective nurses, aside from being of good character, had to be between the ages of 18 and 36, had to have one year of high school education or equivalent, and they were expected to work 54-hour weeks.
Also included in the archives were photos of the celebration of the transfer of ownership of the hospital. In 1926, Dr. Love sold the hospital to Dr. Horace L. Goodman. A dedication ceremony took place at that time with all the doctors on staff. Dr. Giles Courtney was surgeon on staff at this time. Later, Dr. Harold D. Gunning became partners with Dr. Goodman, and the two owned the hospital until Goodman’s death in 1944. Other physicians to join the staff were John W. Compton, Lyle Bryce and A. D. Ferrell.
Photo 11:Nursing Class of 1927. Birdie Mae Shires is standing second from left. Virginia Sullivan stands in back row to the right.
Photo 12: Ms. Terrell, First Head of Nursing at Greenbrier Valley Hospital
Photo 13: Dr. and Mrs. Giles Courtney at 1926 Ceremony
Photo 14: Dr. Lyle Bryce and Dr. Harold Gunning
Photo 15: Dr. J. W. Compton
Photo 16: Dr. Wellinoch
Photo 17: Dr. A. D. Ferrell