The History of Ebenezer Animal Hospital
Dr. Watson H. Matthews (1925-1986) founded Ebenezer Animal Clinic in 1946 after graduating from Auburn
University's College of Veterinary Medicine. He moved back to the township of Ebenezer and started his practice
from his family's home (actually in his back yard chicken house). At that time, his patients were mainly horses,
cattle, and hogs on the farm with an occasional dog coming to his clinic for a vaccine. In 1948, he built the brick
Ebenezer Animal Clinic building. That building stood as a Rock Hill landmark on the corner of Ebenezer Road and
Herlong Avenue for the next 52 years.
In 1968, Dr. Matthews stopped going on farm calls because of an injury. He started to emphasize companion animals,
although he would see any farm animals delivered to the clinic. Appointments were not needed. In 1976, he hired his
first associate, the late Dr. Billy Lazenby. After a few years, Dr. Lazenby built his own facility in Fort Lawn and
moved there to start his own practice. The next associate was Dr. Roger Ross, hired in 1984. The following year,
Dr. Ross moved on.
Dr. Lorin D. Lawrence was practicing in Lake Wylie at Bethel Animal Clinic in 1985 when he was hired by Dr.
Matthews. An agreement was established that Dr. Lawrence was to work until 1990 and then purchase the clinic,
allowing Dr. Matthews to retire. The next year on August 25, 1986, tragedy struck. Dr. Matthews suffered a massive
heart attack and passed away the next day. Rock Hill lost one of its finest citizens that day.
The "walk-in" style of practice continued. Dr. Lawrence hired a retired veterinarian, Dr. John Risser, to work on
Wednesdays, thereby preventing insanity! In 1990, the first of two remodeling projects was completed. The surgery
room, previously used as a second exam room, was moved into a much larger room. This greatly enhanced the surgical
quality and productivity, because a second table and new equipment were brought in.
That year, Dr. Lawrence hired his first full time associate, Dr. Virginia Brown. She brought exotic animal
expertise and expanded that end of the business. In 1992, Ebenezer Animal Clinic joined the ranks of most other
animal clinics, by remodeling to create a reception desk. Dr. Brown helped grow the practice until departing in
1994 to work near her hometown. The next associate was Dr. Ellen Buechler, a native of Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. R.
Kyle Faust joined the practice in 1995 as the third associate, hired to expand the hours of service into the
evenings two nights per week as well as help with the ever increasing caseload.
Another stroke of good fortune (or so it seemed) also occurred in 1995. A real estate broker approached Dr.
Lawrence about the possibility of his leaving the Ebenezer Road location before the lease was up in 1999. The
broker's client, the Boston Market chain, wanted to build a restaurant at the clinic site. Dr. Lawrence, eager to
build a larger facility, agreed to quickly vacate the old clinic six months after the city approved the zoning
variances for the restaurant. An architect was hired (John Watson of Atkinson, Dyer, Watson in Charlotte) and plans
developed. Negotiations between Boston Market and the city lasted almost a year. Suddenly in 1996, without warning,
Boston Market dropped their plans and left Rock Hill. By then the new Ebenezer Animal Hospital had been designed
and the land cleared. Unfortunately, Dr. Buechler moved to Charlotte that year too making it a year Dr. Lawrence
wanted to forget!
Dr. Lawrence and Dr. Faust practiced together for a year before Dr. David Cole came along in 1997. Determined to
build that dream hospital and encouraged by his wife Leslie, Dr. Lawrence initiated the construction on October 14,
1997. The current building was completed on June 22, 1998. The Grand Opening was the first week in July. Despite
the 100 degree heat, over 150 people came to get the grand tour. The staff members were happy to take folks around
because of the pride they had in Rock Hill's largest and most state-of-the-art veterinary facility, now known as
Ebenezer Animal Hospital. A full time manager was needed to operate the larger facility with its increased staff so
Leslie, a middle school band director, took those reins. Dr. Cole moved to his hometown of Charlotte, NC in 1998.
Drs. Lawrence and Faust handled the deluge of patients as best they could, but service was suffering. So in
September, for the first time in Ebenezer Animal Clinic history, an appointment system was put in place.
New life was given to the exotic and nutritional side of the practice with the arrival of Dr. Michael Kolatis in
1999. After seven years as an associate veterinarian, Dr Faust left to run and eventually own a solo practice in
Virginia in 2002.After a couple years working in his hometown animal clinic, Dr. Russ Sprinkles (NC State College
of Veterinary Medicine) became part of our family in the spring of 2002. Dr. Sprinkles brought finely honed
surgical skills to Ebenezer as well as a folksy table-side manner. In 2004, the practice welcomed April Splawn, a
recent graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Law, as their new hospital administrator. To this
day April has made sure the hospital operates as a cohesive unit and her managerial skills are second to none. Then
Dr. Elizabeth Hill joined the staff of Ebenezer in the spring of 2004 after practicing in Georgia (graduated from
University of Georgia) and North Carolina. Another doctor comfortable with exotics, Dr. Hill allowed Ebenezer
Animal Hospital to become a clinic where the majority of the doctors were very competent in avian and exotic
medicine and surgery as well as traditional pets.
Dr. Sprinkles decided to move on to bigger and better things in 2007, opening his own practice in Gastonia, NC,
his hometown. Dr. Kolatis took a big step in his professional career by purchasing Dr Lazenby's practice in Fort
Lawn the Spring of 2008 after his premature passing away. In their place, Dr. Lawrence turned his recruiting skills
to the northeast. Dr. Robin Lepardo, a native of Connecticut and a graduate of Purdue University, joined the doctor
staff in 2007 with a very strong interest in surgery and dentistry. This has helped renew the hospital's desire to
see challenging surgery cases. One year later in 2008, Dr. Jay Hreiz from Pennsylvania and a graduate of the
University of Pennsylvania joined the Ebenezer team. Dr. Hreiz has a very strong background in avian and exotics
which were the driving force for him becoming interested in veterinary medicine. Both new doctors enjoy the warmer
climate of the Carolinas immensely and occasionally raise an eyebrow when they ask for a cup of "cawffee." The
practice is thriving to this day because of the hard work, dedication, and compassion of the doctors of Ebenezer
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