I was in Greenwood recently and while there I decided to go check on a hunch I had about a scene in The Help. I don’t actually have a great visual memory, but for some reason, this scene reminded me of a building in western Greenwood, near the hospital. This was the nursing home that evil Hilly had placed her mother Mrs. Walters in, and here Mrs. Walters is reading The Help to her fellow inmates and is about to get to the good part, so to speak.
If you take a right off of Highway 82 (coming from Jackson) onto Strong Avenue, and drive a couple blocks you’ll see this building on the left. It was those distinctive multi-toned yellow brick that caught my eye in the movie.
Go around back, and there it is, the courtyard where the scene took place. From this side, the building looks fine, not great, but fine, so it’s disappointing to realize from the boards on the front windows that it is in fact vacant.
According to both the marble plaque over the front door and the wonderfully helpful website About Greenwood, the building began in 1922 as the Lois Aron Memorial Home for Nurses at the Kings Daughters Hospital–this from a clipping from the Greenwood Commonwealth Weekly Edition, February 16, 1921:
The plans and specifications for the new building were drawn by Mr. Frank R. McGeoy, our well known local architect. The building will have twelve bedrooms, living room, porches and several baths. All the floors in the building will be white maple polished, and all the woodwork will be white enamel, ivory finish, and mahogany doors. It will be heated by hot water, and the exterior will be of brick veneer and stone trimming. With large projecting eaves, and will be one of the handsomest residence buildings in the City. It will face the South on Strong Avenue, which is being paved.
The center block is the original section, as shown in this postcard from the Cooper Postcard Collection at MDAH. I really like the combination–seen here and elsewhere in Greenwood–of a very horizontal feeling (low tiled roof and wide eaves) with classical and Craftsman details like the portico and the triangular knee braces.
The outer wings were added sometime later, possibly designed by McGeoy, who was still in practice into the 1930s. This 1949 Sanborn seems to indicate the outer wings had not been added yet–can that be possible? If they in fact date to the 1950s, the architect did a great job at designing a sympathetic addition at a time when most architects were sticking Modernist additions everywhere. It could be that the map men just missed this change, a rare case of not paying attention.
According to the “Greenwood Leflore Hospital Story” (last updated March 14, 2004), the home was still in use by the hospital only a few years ago, and may still be owned by the hospital:
The Lois Aron Memorial Nurse’s Home is still in use, but not as a nurse’s residence anymore. It is called the “ARON ANNEX” and is used as a residence for family of patients who must travel great distances to the hospital and also for classrooms for their Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) students.
Maybe, if the hospital does still own the building, there will be a new use for it soon and it can come back to real life, as opposed to Hollywood life. Here’s hoping.