|City/Town: • Nashville|
|Location Class: • Hospital|
|Year Built: • 1948|
|Year Abandoned: • 2009|
|Status: • Abandoned • Endangered|
|Photojournalist: • Jonathan Canaday|
County officials are still working to tear down at least part of the old Howard County Memorial Hospital building. The former hospital location on Leslie Street in Nashville, Arkansas closed in 2009. Ever since then, ideas have been tossed around about what to do with the building. Because of numerous issues, including asbestos and lead, the location has remained vacant. Back in October of 2013, the Howard County Quorum Court passed a resolution to seek $150,000 in funding for the demolition of the old hospital property. The state’s Rural Development Commission has been working to secure those funds and it has not been a quick process. Howard County Judge Kevin Smith says only a third of the money has been collected. He would like to the see the county keep the newest expansion to the building, constructed in 1988. The quorum court has discussed several ways that the building could be utilized. The ideas include expanding district court, community storm shelter, offsite hazmat area for Tyson’s, backup location should something happen to the courthouse, and others.
Howard County Coroner and Howard County Ambulance Service owner John Gray says the area could be developed into a residential area. “I believe once funding has been secured for demolition of the building the city and county should jointly pursue a developer to build a nice mid range price apartment complex to offer more housing options for our area. I would like to see the doctors office building to be used as an emergency operation center so that the city and county has the resources needed to mitigate any disaster that could occur.”
Howard County Memorial Hospital opened in 1948.
Susan Wright of Nashville worked at the old hospital and has several memories. She said seeing photos of the building and the condition it is now in is bittersweet. “I was born at HMH on June 24, 1959, went to work at HMH on Nov 28, 1988, and was employed until June 3, 2014. I was a Unit Secretary & Monitor Technician for the Med-Surg unit.”
Wright also remembers the spiral staircase going down into the medical records room. “Those [stairs]were awful and it was spooky down there! I had a fear of getting locked in there and no one knowing where I was!”
The hospital delivered newborns until early 1990.
The building underwent several expansions, including the hospital front wing in 1961-62, 1972-73, and the emergency department in 1988.
The new facility opened on July 30, 2009. Construction of the new hospital did not include demolition of the old building. County officials looked for new tenants to possibly turn the building into a VA nursing home or house the local school administration. However, renovations were needed and the building would require the removal of asbestos and lead. Also, the adjacent doctors office building was still in use.
Photos and story by Jonathan Canaday of Southwest Arkansas Radio.