Historic Okmulgee hospital to be renovated
Thursday, November 3rd 2005, 10:14 am
By: News On 6
A significant piece of Oklahoma history is on the verge of a new life as a group in Okmulgee has begun the process to re-open the Okmulgee Black Hospital as a cultural center.
News on 6 reporter Rick Wells went there for a look around.
From the highway it's just another boarded up brick building. The word hospital on the front is a clue to its history, but few who travel through Okmulgee on US highway 75, probably donâ€™t give the building a second glance. "It's gonna be another of the gems for Okmulgee." Rae Ann Wilson is the president of the Multi-Cultural Heritage Association in Okmulgee. They're planning on fixing it up.
They've gotten a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to begin the process of restoration. "It was used as a hospital until 1956." Built in 1922 their records indicate it was the first "Colored Hospital" opened in the country.
An architect has already taken a first look around and he says the basic structure is in remarkably good shape. The light on our camera and a couple of flashlights she brought along provided the only illumination.
"We hope to be in this facility for the Centennial." They've got a presentation scheduled before the Centennial Commission, which could give them increased credibility raising money. Oil money built the hospital back in the 20's. â€œI'm sure some of that money is still here." Rick Wells: "Just need to shake it loose?" Rae Ann Wilson: "Shake it loose, weâ€™d like to shake it loose." If they do, this piece of Oklahoma history will live again.
The group will begin a door to door campaign this weekend to raise awareness about the project, and hopefully some money too. There is more information on their website.