HomeMedford NewsCranberry Hall to be renamed after Dr. James Still

Cranberry Hall to be renamed after Dr. James Still


A common theme of discussion that has been brought up numerous times at the last few Medford Town Council meetings has been the renaming of Cranberry Hall in honor of Dr. James Still.

Still was a self-taught physician in the Medford area during the 1800s who was widely known as the “Black Doctor of the Pines.”

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The idea was originally brought to the attention of council by members of the historical society who believed Still’s impact was deserving of a township landmark being named after him.

Sam Still, a descendant of Dr. Still, along with Michael Panarello, Beverly Davis and other members of the historical society, stood before council during the Oct. 6 meeting as they proposed the idea Still should be recognized.

“He saved a young lady named Mary Sooy after all the other doctors had given her up for dead,” Panarello said. “We now have Sooy Place Road and Sooy all over the place, but we don’t have anything named after the doctor that saved her.”

Davis is a part of the education committee for the Dr. James Still Educational Center and a former teacher who taught in the Medford School District for more than 20 years where she observed an absence of any inclusion of the African American experience or accomplishments in the curriculum, as she put it.

Still’s second great grandnephew, Sam, also spoke before the council. He has been telling Still’s story since he was 13 years old.

Still was the son of two former slaves. His mother was an escaped fugitive. The family came here from Caroline County, Md., where Still was one of 18 children.

“A lot of this history is good for our children, whether they are white or black, they need to hear this story,” Sam said. “I think this would be a privilege for this township to honor him, and I would support that in any way that I can.”

Council took the notion into consideration, and after some brainstorming, came up with the idea of renaming Cranberry Hall.

The historical society approved, according to Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Beenstock.

This topic was once again listed as a discussion item at last week’s meeting, and council decided to begin coordinating with the Still family and the Medford Historical Society for a dedication ceremony in the spring.

Council members were in unison with Councilman Christopher Buoni when he labeled this move as “appropriate” given the historical meaning of the building and Still.

Cranberry Hall was the original courtroom for Medford, and it is nearly 100 years old.

Council also took the origin of the building’s current name into account to ensure no one would be offended by changing the name.

The building was lifted and moved by the public works office from a former cranberry bog, which is how the name “Cranberry Hall” came about.

“We don’t believe there will be any hard feelings as far as changing the name,” Beenstock said.

Township manager Katherine Berger confirmed she will contact the historical society and Still’s family to make arrangements for the ceremony.


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