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.” –
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.