Barnett Hospital Resuscitated
Cabell Standard 12/10/2007
HUNTINGTON- In the
days before big hospitals like Cabell Huntington, St. Mary's and King's
Daughters began providing services to citizens throughout the Tri-State
region, small neighborhood hospitals with a few physicians and less than
fifty beds were the norm.
One former hospital in Huntington that is still a landmark today is the
Barnett Hospital. Located at 7th Avenue and 12th Street, in the heart of
what once was a thriving black professional neighborhood, plans are underway
to restore the old Barnett to its former glory.
The hospital closed
in 1939 and from 1947 until 2007 the building was used as offices for
General Laborers Union Local 543, Karen Nance, the new owner, said.
Having bought the building from the union, Nance now plans to restore it and
turn the building into low-income apartments.
"Dr. Barnett opened the hospital in 1912 and then he and his second wife
Clara opened the nursing school in 1920. At the time the school opened, it
was one of only 22 black nursing schools in the country," Nance said. "When
I discovered the history of the hospital I knew this was a building that
needed to be saved."
Although at first glance the building looks like one square structure, it's
really three buildings that have been connected. The Barnetts lived in back
of the hospital, and then later added onto the back of their property to
build the addition for the nursing school, where students boarded as well as
worked. Nance believes a third story was added later, since an old picture
of the building does not show a third story.
During its largest incarnation, the hospital had 30 rooms, she said.
Walking into the second and third floor of the building, save for a coating
of dust and some old election signs stored by the union, not much has
changed. The check-in window on the second floor is still intact and some of
the rooms are still numbered.
Although the elevator isn't functional, old ropes and pulleys hang from the
shaft. Spaces are cramped and the hallways expand and contract with little
rhyme or reason. In the cold quiet of the upper floors, it's hard to
imagine that for forty years people wheezed, coughed, bled, lived and died
"Dr. Barnett lost the hospital in 1930 after the stock market crashed and it
was the city hospital from that point until 1939 when it closed due to lack
of funds," Nance said.
A historian and
renovator of historical buildings, Nance helped to renovate the Maude
Carroll house in Guyandotte and the historic bandstand in Gallapolis as well
as homes in Ironton and throughout the Tri-State region.
She said she plans to turn the old hospital into nine apartments, seven
being one bedroom and two being two bedroom. She will also make the first
floor handicap accessible.
Nance said she plans to start renovation by October of 2008 and be finished
at the end of 2009.
Submitted by Ed Prichard
January 4, 2008