New owners aim to redevelop first black hospital in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When segregation split the metro and the rest of the United States, there was one place in Kansas City African American doctors and nurses could serve their community.

Wheatley-Provident Hospital is a historic place in KC, but it also had fallen on the city’s dangerous building list.

The hospital's new owners Erika Brice, Shomari Benton and Michael Edmondson are hoping to change that.

“They could obtain care. Children didn't die at younger ages because they could receive proper care,” said Erika Brice, as she explained the significance of the building at 18th and Forest.

The African American Registry shows the hospital was founded in 1916 and was the first medical facility serving the black community in KC.

The building was constructed around the turn of the century, in 1910 it was the Perry Sanitarium and Training School for Nurses.

It served the community approximately 56 years before becoming outdated and being replaced by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital in 1972. 

The building owners said it’s the history, value and purpose added to Kansas City that makes the deal worth the investment.

“This was one of the first opportunities to show what people of color could really do,” said Brice.

The facility was also a children’s ward, parochial school and in the 90s became a haunted house.

Brice, Benton and partners stepped in when they heard that the former owner was going to tear the building down.

They said it goes hand-in-hand with progress in the 18th Street and Vine district.

Brice said it could become offices, a school or once again be used for medical purposes.

“That use ties into the history of the building,” said Benton.

Construction could take from 16 months to 2 years.

Brice said it will at least cost $2 million for repairs.

The owners believe growth in the Jazz District will make it all worth it.

“It’s also really important as Kansas City changes and this neighborhood changes, we remember these things and bring them into the future as well,” said Brice.

The owners hope to clear the land and clean the area up, as well as put up a fence within 30 days. Construction would start after that.

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