Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Historic Elmwood Cemetery & Foundation

Where Detroit's History Endures
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James W. Ames, M.D.

James W. Ames, M.D.
(1864 – 1944)

James W. Ames was born on October 12, 1864 in Louisiana.  He was the son of Walter Ames and Clarissa Washington.  He was educated at Straight College in New Orleans, and received his medical degree from Howard University in 1894.

Dr. Ames was well respected and considered among the medical elite in early Detroit.  At this time, it was difficult for African Americans to get quality medical care and hospitalization.  In 1918, he and 30 other African American physicians purchased a three-story home from Jewish diamond merchant, Charles Warren, at 580 Frederick Street in Detroit.  They renovated the structure and opened a thirty-seven bed, non profit hospital aiding the African American population of Detroit. The facility also included an operating room.  This was the first African American hospital in Detroit.

The funding for the Paul Dunbar Memorial Hospital came from the group’s personal pocket books, some Detroit philanthropists and the congregants of St. Matthew Episcopal Church.  Dr. Ames was named the Medical Director.

Dunbar Memorial Hospital was successful and continued to offer medical training to both African American doctors and nurses.  In 1927 it moved to a larger facility and was renamed Parkside Hospital.

Ames was very active in the Detroit community.  He served as the director of the Phyllis Wheatley Home for Indigent Colored Women; as a Republican Michigan State Legislator in 1901-1902; on the Detroit Board of Health 1901-1915; and on the Wayne County Board Supervisors for many years.  He was an exalted ruler in Elks Club.

A triangular island park was named after him in Detroit and it can be found bordered by McGraw, Milford and Vinewood.

Dr. Ames is buried in Section 11, Lot 150.