Matty Hersee Update

The Meridian Star ran an article last week about the recent decision by the Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History’s Board of Trustees to grant a demolition permit to Meridian Community College for the old Matty Hersee Hospital and Nursing School. From the tone, it sounds to me like the theory propounded in the comments to “MDAH Giveth, MDAH Taketh Away” that MCC (definitely) and MDAH (possibly) conspired to keep the matter hushed up until the decision was a done deed may be accurate.

Here are a few excerpts from what is a long article worth reading in its entirety:

As the planned demolition of the Matty Hersee Hospital/School of Nursing building became publicly known this week, one group of individuals not only expressed shock and disappoint, but also some confusion.

“They announced at our reunion they were going to do something with the building … They even had an architect there with a (architectural) drawing,” said Pamela Stockman McPhearson, who was among the last class to graduate from the prestigious nursing school.

That certainly lines up with what we have been keeping up with in the Star–the last article we knew of was around the time of that reunion. Maybe the Star was just as much in the dark as we were, or at least maybe nobody at the Star was taking a close look at the public notices that came through for publication.

 “We have two goals for Matty Hersee,” [MCC President Dr. Scott] Elliott said. “Once the demolition is completed, our first goal is to make certain that an appropriate historic marker or some kind of monument is established on the property to commemorate it being the site of the state’s first school of nursing and charity hospital. Second, our long-term goal would be to develop the property with a new building to house an educational program or programs. In all candor, that probably won’t occur during my tenure as president of MCC because, based on the history of state bond money support for community colleges, it will likely take years to accumulate the sufficient funds for a major capital improvements project.”

The demolition probably won’t happen any time soon. Elliott said that such a project requires an engineering plan to include the asbestos abatement. The actual demolition could take months and perhaps involve salvaging certain materials, such as old bricks and wood for sale to interested parties. Such a sale, he noted, could offset some of the cost of the demolition.

Ah, the salvaging of the bricks as a preservation measure. And a nice commemorative marker. We’ve heard that before, haven’t we? Hey, how about a nice grassy knoll, like where the Meridian Hotel used to be?

Elliott said that he hopes the citizenry will understand that MCC has acted in good faith on this matter and that it not mushroom into a polarizing issue.

“I think there are enough things, such as crime, that are on the front burner in our community right now,” he summed. “This doesn’t need to become an issue that causes divisiveness. Rather, I would hope that we can look forward to the day when the taxpayers have a piece of land available for the future expansion of the college that is accompanied by an appropriate historic marker to remind people of Matty Hersee’s significance to Meridian and our state. I want to publicly thank Hank Holmes, chairman of the Archives Board, for working with MCC on resolving this matter.” –

See more at: http://www.meridianstar.com/local/x703159921/sthash.Uz9Ka4ZV#sthash.KHAKDa3c.dpuf

Quick, while everyone is looking at crime, tear down the community’s historic buildings!

I love how public officials who take a course of action they know a significant segment of the population is going to hate, then turn around and declare that people shouldn’t be angry because “this isn’t divisive.” Yes it is divisive. Own it and don’t patronize the public. We’re not stupid.

And that’s a nice touch for a college president to be personally thanking the head of the state’s historical agency for helping him tear down a historic building without any publicity or fuss. So much neater that way, don’t you think? Could you scratch just a little to the left? Ah, yes, that’s perfect.



Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Meridian

12 replies

  1. smoke filled backroom meetings with decisions already long made before ” public input” is the rule, not the exception for governmental decisions ( like the rail crossing closures in H,burg ). until something is done to help with tax credits or group discounted building supply purchasing it will never again be affordable for private acquisition and restoration of these old structures while our government, at all levels spends money “like a drunk sailor” . i rotated through and lived in the charity hospitals as a medical student and they were far superior to the wasteful, bureaucratic welfare state of today while providing an unbelieveable learning experience to medical and nursing students as well as actually GOOD basic medical care—-it is a shame they were not maintainned as teaching institutions while providing affordable care to the needy—–buying a ” brick on a plaque” is just rewarding these bureacrats for misbehavior in destruction of these great old structures ! another victim of “progress” !

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  2. This reminds me of the skullduggery surrounding the demolition of the S.F. Potts Plantation Home in Crawford. The home was built around 1880 and had became the property of the Departmemt of Fish and Wildlife through a land mitigation swap. The home was damaged in the 1998 straight line winds that swept through the Parairie and did much destruction to MSCW. The front portico of the Potts Home was damaged and some roof torn away, but the basic roof structure was undamaged. Fish and Wildlife had planned to turn the plantation property into the Black Prairie hunting preserve. There was nothing in Birney Imes’ “Fit To Print” Commercial -Dispatch, nor the local weekly Columbus Packet about the coming demolition. I called the “Packet’s” editor, Roger Larsen, on two occasions about the planned demolition and the looting of the structure. He wasn’t interested. I’m still wondering who in “fish and wildlife” made off with the architectural salvage. In talks with MDAH officials I was told that that “Fish and Wildlife” frowned upon turning the historic home into a Bread and Breakfast, because of a previous case where a B&B became more Bed and little Breakfast. It became a whorehouse for public officials. Maybe Tom Kesler can elaborate on that bombshell story that never made the headlines.

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  3. Thank you @ELMalvaney for keeping us updated and for your commentary…love it! I’ve put an open letter on FaceBook asking Dr. Elliott, John McClure (Director of Community Development) and Hank Holmes to contact me regarding a historic tax credit project instead of razing the hospital. I’ve also suggested an alternate 10 acre site for MCC’s future building plans…we’ll see.

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  4. So you tear down part of your city’s history,and then put up a marker to say it was there after you tear it down? Excuse me for saying this,but that is pretty dumb!

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  5. This is the direction all public officials are headed —abuse of power is rampant. I think the NACP should get involved. That would definitely give them pause—maybe! Sad to just raze historical buildings when not necessary.

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  6. If walls could talk, they’d be saying, Save Us from Mabus!.

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  7. The irony of talking about historic marking throughout his speech is nauseating and is obviously supposed to appeal to (what he probably think of as ) historic preservation types. Perhaps he thinks these types don’t recognize irony. How patronizing.

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  8. Seemingly as always, another article of poor preservation news from Meridian. Just as a general rule, it seems that New South cities approach historic preservation very differently than Old South cities. Natchez, Columbus, Aberdeen, and, to a degree, Holly Springs, have a comparatively strong preservation ethos, joined by smaller communities like Canton and Carrollton. New South and Twentieth Century cities such as Hattiesburg and Jackson but especially Meridian have a weak preservation ethos. I do not know where Vicksburg falls in that spectrum; they are the exception to that generalization as an Old South city that hates historic buildings and loves empty new parking lots.

    A historic preservationist is the most visionary person of all, able look past what is to see what used to be and what can be in the future. In the case of Matty Hersee Hospital, that involves looking past what is: an unappealing paint scheme, cheap metal windows, and an abandoned building in relatively poor condition, to see what used to be: a restrained red brick façade with contrasting quoins and lintels, high-quality wood windows, and a hospital built and operated under the highest standards for the benefit of the community, and to see what can be in the future: a restored red brick façade with contrasting quoins and lintels, high-quality and energy-efficient wood windows, and a building operated for the benefit of the community as apartments, classrooms, dormitories, offices, senior housing, or any number of uses. Hopefully, Meridian can look at what can be and not what is before we all look at a vacant lot and wonder what used to be.

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  9. Im sorry, I don’t see a need to save a building where so much pain and sorrow resided in. What historical value is there? Did they discover a cure to something? Did a world renowed doctor work there? Yes its a old building but all old buildings don’t need to be saved. It would take a huge amount of tax payers money to restore this building. if it was saved what would it be used for, Apartments? who wants to stay in a place where so many people died? Just tear it down and put up a marker

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  10. It appears demolition has started. I can’t find any recent photos online but I saw that it would be gone by this past May. This was one of my favorite abandoned places in Mississippi. I should have stopped by the last time I visited Mississippi.

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