Marker #1928 African American Physicians

Historical Marker #1928, in Lexington, Kentucky, honors the medical service of African American physicians who practiced in Central Kentucky during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

For the first 30 years of the 1900s, the office building at 118 North Broadway and The Marble Sisters Pharmacy housed Black professionals, particularly physicians and pharmacists. Marker #1928 now stands at this location to commemorate the lives of Obed Cooley, Nathaniel J. Ridley, J.C. Coleman, John Hunter, and Joseph Laine, along with countless others who served the civilians of Lexington.

Obed Cooley was the youngest son of William and Lucy Cooley. Cooley was born in 1870, in Tottenville, Staten Island. He attended the University of Michigan and settled in Lexington afterward. Dr. Cooley practiced medicine for over 30 years, up until his death in 1937. He is buried at the Cove Haven Cemetery.

John Edward Hunter was born in 1859, in Virginia. He graduated from Oberlin College and the Medical School of Western Reserve University in 1889. Dr. Hunter relocated to Lexington immediately after college and practiced medicine there for 63 years. Much of his service was with Dr. Perry D. Robinson, with whom he shared a practice. During this time, he continued his education with postgraduate programs in Chicago, Cleveland, and New York. In addition, Dr. Hunter was the first black surgeon at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He was also a member of the National Medical Association and its Executive Board; he served as president of NMA in 1904, and he likewise participated in the State Medical Association. Dr. Hunter passed away in 1956, just four years after his retirement. The Hunter Foundation for Healthcare, now known as Healthcare of the Bluegrass, was founded in his honor.

Though little is known of Dr. Nathaniel J. Ridley, he also had an office at 118 North Broadway, he started his practice in 1900.

Joseph Fields Laine was born in 1879 in Winchester, Kentucky. He was a graduate of Berea College and Meharry Medical College. Dr. Laine practiced medicine in both Lexington and Louisville through his group, The Laine Medical Clinic. He passed away in 1967.

Marker #1928 was dedicated in 1993 by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department of Highways. It reads: African American Physicians. Site of office building which housed prominent African-American physicians and pharmacy. Among the doctors who practiced here between 1909 and 1930 were Obed Cooley; Nathaniel J. Ridley; J.C. Coleman; John Hunter, first African-American surgeon at St. Joseph's Hospital; and Joseph Laine, who later founded a medical clinic in Louisville. Presented by Professor Doris Wilkinson, Historical Sociologist at University of KY.