Meridian, Miss. Plans are being announced to tear down a former hospital in Meridian. Meridian Community College owns the old Matty Hersee Charity Hospital. It has been closed 24 years.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has approved a request from the college to demolish the building.
Eight years ago Meridian Community College paid $1.6 million to buy the hospital and the five acres of land where it and a building that's now used as a school dormitory sit. Expected to cost $10 million or more to renovate the closed facility, MCC's president says demolishing the building is the school's only choice.
"We began to research what grants might be available to renovate the facility and we were just unable to determine that there was any money available for that on a local, state or federal level," says Dr. Scott Elliott.
Because MCC is landlocked, Dr. Elliott says the school is in dire need of space for future growth.
The MCC dormitory that is connected to Matty Hersee Hospital is positioned just yards away from the vacant structure. In fact, the two are connected by a covered walkway.
Because of the dormitory's age, and the fact that it's located on the opposite side of the street from MCC's main campus, school officials have a long range plan to locate all housing for MCC on the same side of the street.
This will ultimately mean that the dormitory by Matty Hersee will also close, and MCC will build a new housing area on the main campus.
In the meantime, MCC is preparing to build a new dormitory on its last available land-space, which is located behind its cosmetology school.
As for the Matty Hersee site, preliminary work for demolition of the hospital is expected to take months. With this being the case, Dr. Elliott says it could be a number of years before construction starts on a new building there.
"To be gut level honest with you, it's unlikely that during my tenure as president that you'll see a new building over there, but the land will still be there for future development."
Matty Hersee was the first charity hospital in Mississippi. It was also the first nursing school in the state. It was closed after Gov. Ray Mabus vetoed a funding measure of the Mississippi Legislature in 1989.