A national civil rights leader will be making a push to renovate one of the city’s oldest black hospitals.
Collins Chapel Hospital, named after the oldest black church in Memphis, hasn’t been operational since 1980. But now, we’re learning about plans to reopen the historic building as a rehabilitation center.
There’s so much history inside this building. Many Memphians were actually born inside these walls. Many medical professionals, nurses, doctors got their start training right here and now it’s about to get a new life.
“Basically, it’s just concrete structured building,” says Gregory Toles of Toles Construction. “Those are the hardest buildings to renovate.”
The building has been at the corner of Ayers and J.W. Williams Lane for more than 60 years. And now it’s getting a make-over.
“This is going to be a nurse station here.”
Signs of the old hospital is hard to miss.
“Since 1910, the CME Church launched this hospital and healthcare facility to provide healthcare to the African American Community, who at the time were denied access to the all-white hospitals,” says CME Church Bishop Henry Williamson Sr.
After integration, there wasn’t much need for the all-black hospital. It had a short stint as a dental clinic before shutting down.
But three years ago, leaders of the Christian Methodist Episcopal church found that there was a need that wasn’t being fully met in this city.
“We’re now specializing in a much-needed medical area for Shelby County and that is dialysis for patients as well vent units for those that need to breathe through their throat,” says Bishop Williamson.
It’ll cost about $3 million to complete this project. Now a vision that started more than a century ago for disenfranchised blacks is being reborn to serve anyone that needs it.
“We think the historical significance will be well worth the price, the time, and the effort,” says Bishop Williamson.
Williamson says the Rev. Jesse Jackson will be in town Monday April 3rd at 7:00 p.m. to talk about healthcare in this country and the importance of funding this project.