Allen University is embarking on a $10 million project to renovate the former Good Samaritan—Waverly Hospital and add an annex to honor the nine victims of the 2015 massacre at “Mother” Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
The annex would be named after the late Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, a state senator who was one of those killed in the shooting, and would house the school’s new Institute of Civility. A memorial to the nine Emanuel victims would be located in the lobby.
The annex would also be home to a South Carolina African-American hall of fame.
“It would be based on achievement,” Allen President Ernest McNealey said in an exclusive interview with The State.
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Also, officials of the private liberal arts college operated by the African Methodist Episcopal Church plan to renovate the former Carver Theater on Harden Street into a performance space, McNealey said. They would raze adjacent buildings, including the former Royal Motel, and build commercial space. The project could cost up to $2 million.
And the school has purchased a block of property along Millwood Avenue, which presently hosts the former Bundrick’s Kar Kare and Star Beauty buildings. The plan is to raze the buildings and create a park.
“We want to raise the overall aesthetic nature of the neighborhood,” McNealey said.
The hospital, located at 2204 Hampton St., cared for African-American patients for only 21 years, from 1952 to 1973. It closed when Richland Memorial Hospital opened and it was unable to compete for patients, according to a story in The State.
Known as “Good Sam,” the hospital was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Allen bought the building in 1987, hoping to make it a physical education center. But that and other plans for the building have stalled because of fundraising difficulties.
The most recent plan also would require additional fundraising, McNealey said, but work is expected to begin this summer.
The planned annex would be built onto the west end of the hospital and echo its Moderne style of architecture. Pinckney’s name would be inscribed above the annex’s main entrance, and the names of the other victims would be inscribed around the building’s waist.
The lobby would hold portraits of the victims with the words “Remembering the Emanuel Nine.”
The nine victims were gunned down in June 2015 at the Charleston church by a young, self-avowed white supremacist from Richland County. The shooter, Dylann Roof, told FBI agents he wanted to start a race war. Pinckney was the church’s senior pastor.
Roof was convicted and is presently on death row in Indiana.
In addition to the annex, university officials plan to renovate the hospital to house their environmental justice program, its seminary and a telemedicine program.
Also this summer, McNealey said the school plans to renovate the Carver theater. It would host lectures, performances and occasionally show films.
It was built in 1941 and, along with the Capitol Theatre, served the African-American community in Columbia. The Capitol Theater has since been demolished and in 2003 the Carver was placed on the National Register.
Fall enrollment at the university was 720 students. McNealey said he would like to grow that number.
The added space ”will cause enrollment to grow, which is critically important,” he said. “You need 800 students to make the business model work.”