100 Years Later, this Newport Building is Still a Doctor's Office
Dr. Mark Schroer had previously sought to become an actor, studying theater at college in Missouri, but that creative journey led him on the same path that his father had taken before him, and in 2008, he began practicing medicine at 17 East Sixth Street.
And now he is part of history.
The City of Newport's city commission voted last month to designate the building as a historic landmark.
In 1914, Dr. Ed Herman opened the first practice in the 1866 building. He practiced there until 1955, a span in which the last seven years were spent working alongside his doctor nephew, J.A. Schroer who joined up in 1948.
Mark Schroer recalls that some of the prices from part of his father's era included a buck for an office visit or $2 for a house call. The elder Dr. Schroer and his wife lived upstairs from the office for a few years where Mark's older brother was born, though their time in the apartment was split by a couple years in which the doctor was stationed at Virginia Beach during the Korean War. The apartment, though uninhabited today, is largely unchanged in terms of its decor and furnishings, though it is about to undergo a renovation.
Now 91, Dr. J.A. Schroer resides on his farm in Grant's Lick, a painting of which hangs in the stairway of 17 East 6th. The building was one of many on the block that made up Newport's Physicians Row, though the road was originally known as Jefferson Street, like many streets in the city that are or were named for Revolutionary War figures and places. Newport historic preservation officer Scott Clark said that the city would explore the possibility of placing a marker at the site and that the new designation is a step towards placing the building on the National Register.
After the elder Schroer retired in 2006, the building was empty for a couple of years before Dr. Mark Schroer reopened it for practice in 2008. His brother, Jim Schroer, runs the office and did most of the historic research about the building prior to its new historic designation.
Though he briefly flirted with a life on stage, Dr. Schroer is happy to carry on the family tradition in the office that looks much as it has for decades. "I'm really doing what I've always wanted to do," he said.
"Like Chekhov said, 'Medicine is my lawful wife'," Dr. Schroer loosely quoted with a laugh, "'theatre is my mistress'."
Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News