Meridian pays verbal tribute to Merrehope and the Williams House, while at the same time neglecting them. Ann McKee, president of the Meridian Restorations Foundation says the time has come that just talking about our history is no longer enough.
"In the past we have had in excess of 300 members in the Foundation," said McKee. "But our membership has dropped to a little less than a hundred members."
Financial support is lacking.
"On a monthly basis, it's around $2,500 a month to run the two houses," McKee said. "Now this pays utilities. It pays insurance and it pays our hostess. We do have a hostess on duty Monday through Saturday, nine until four."
At one time Merrehope was a popular place for meetings, social gatherings and especially for weddings. No more.
"Let me just point this out to you," said McKee. "During the month of June this year, which is traditionally the month for weddings, there was not a single wedding at Merrehope."
But Merrehope is not the biggest problem.
"Structure-wise, Merrehope is in great shape," said McKee. "It's the F.W. Williams house that needs a roof terribly. We have gotten estimates for the roof in excess of $50,000. When it rains, we actually have to put a bucket out to catch the water. The water is coming in and if we cannot stop it, we will lose the beautiful furnishings."
Three hundred fifty people have been invited to a complimentary luncheon at Merrehope on July 22. How many attend could well determine whether this portion of Meridian's history will be preserved.