The idea of restoring a local decaying historical site was tossed around with the possibility of Yazoo City acquiring a Brownfield grant.
But the price tag may still be too hefty.
John Hargraves, who plans to pursue an Environmental Protection Agency grant for the city of Yazoo City, said the funds could be used to revitalize the Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital.
Hargraves’ statement drew some excitement from the crowd during last week’s town hall meeting. But with only $400,000 included in the potential grant, spirits were quickly weakened at the cost it would realistically take to restore the historical medical facility.
Mike Espy, a former member of the House of Representatives and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, is the grandson of the founder of the Afro-American Sons and Daughters fraternal organization, Thomas J. Huddleston Sr.
Espy returned to his hometown last week to attend the town meeting and discuss the future of the Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital.
“I am sorry to say but $400,000 would be just enough to get in trouble,” Espy said.
Espy said a complete restoration of the hospital could run up to a million dollars.
The Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital was built in 1928. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
“It was the first hospital in the Southeast to cater to the health care needs of black citizens,” Espy said.
The late Dr. L.T. Miller served as the facility's first director. The hospital, which offered both major and minor surgery, was a leading health care supplier for blacks in Mississippi.
It closed its doors in 1974.
“The hospital was owned by a church, and the elders decided to restore it to museum-status,” Espy said.
Thanks to a loan from the Bank of Yazoo City, Espy said the facility was then purchased by a non-profit foundation.
“We would like to see it become a museum, hold community rooms or a meeting facility,” Espy added.
Other grants were pursued, and several studies were conducted.
Brownfield grants are offered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assist redeveloping properties where there is a presence of a substance that is hazardous to the environment. The presence of asbestos in the hospital building may qualify the property.
Espy said he would love to work with Hargraves in pursuing the Brownfield grant in the hopes of restoring the historical building, adding that he would donate the building or pass along the former studies if needed.