Old Smithville hospital could be demolished

Posted at 10:00 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 23:50:19-04

A historic hospital faces an uncertain future as city leaders continue to discuss whether to renovate or demolish the 80-year-old building.

The old Spelman Hospital building was built in the late 1930s and was the first to offer health services to people in the Smithville, Missouri area.

However, after decades of going unused, the building finds itself in desperate need of repairs.

Several windows and doors remain boarded up, some windows are broken, and much of the inside remains in bad shape.

Despite the poor condition of the old hospital, some in the community would like to see the building preserved.

"It's been said I was the last baby born over there, but either way, I was one of the last," explained restaurant owner Jonathan Justus. "For many people around here, that was the regional hospital for three counties."

With the Justus Drugstore restaurant just two doors down from the old hospital, Justus believes the building still has something left to offer.

"The potential is massive," he explained. "When you drive by it looks a little slouchy. However, I think that building could and should be a part of the overall design of that redevelopment."

Others around the downtown area feel similar to Justus. 

Three Link Gallery owner Jeff Becker told 41 Action News he hopes to see the building renovated into a space for entrepreneurs.

However, some residents believe the building should be demolished.

Neighbors have brought up concerns with the state of the building, saying it could attract rodents and unwanted guests.

On Tuesday, Smithville Mayor Brian Fullmer said despite renovations likely costing a few million dollars, the building could still be used for a new purpose.

"Structurally, it's intact," he explained. "We would have to bring any of the inside stuff up to code." 

Moving forward, Fullmer said the old Spelman Hospital could possibly be converted into an attraction.

"I would love to see a historical museum in there," the mayor explained. "I would love to see our Chamber of Commerce (in there)."

The building remains privately owned.

However, the city continues to hold talks with the owner over the facility's possible future.

Mayor Fullmer said a decision on the future of the old Spelman Hospital could come in the next few months.