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First Black-owned hospital in Kansas City nominated for National Register of Historic Places


The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation approved the nomination of the first Black-owned hospital in Kansas City for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Wheatley-Provident Hospital began as a sanitarium and nursing school started by Dr. John Edward Perry, who wanted to provide healthcare for the African-American community in Kansas City, according to a presentation to the council. With funding from prominent Black organizations, Perry’s operation grew to be the first hospital owned and operated by Black doctors in heavily-segregated Kansas City. The hospital closed its doors in 1972, a decade after Perry’s death. 

The building has received little upkeep since its closure, despite occasional use as a haunted house attraction in the 80s and 90s. Some areas of the hospital were damaged after a fire was set the day after the closure. 

The building was nominated due to its historical significance to Kansas City and the Black community. 

The council approved six other properties as nominees for the National Historical Registry during Friday’s agenda meeting, including three other Kansas City locations.

Community Church, also located in Kansas City, was nominated for its status as the “work of a master.” The church was designed by architect Frank Llyod Wright in 1941 and featured many of the designer’s distinct trademarks, including materials, unconventional shapes, and uses of lighting sources. The church is still in use and retains many of its original elements. 

The council also approved the nomination of the Southwestern Bell Administration Building in Kansas City. The building was the main operating center for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, which was part of AT&T from 1912 through 1982 when the U.S. Government enacted anti-trust measures and broke the company down. The site remained largely untouched, and plans are in place to potentially convert the building into office space.

The nomination of East Ninth Street-Grand Boulevard Historic District in Kansas City was also approved. The boulevard is home to some of the city’s oldest skyscrapers, including the Federal Reserve Bank Building and the Scarritt Building. The route covers what is considered the city’s financial center.

Additionally, the Bank of St. Ann, which operated in the community in the 1960s, was approved as a nominee. The bank was known for being the only building designed in the international style not to have been altered or replaced in the area. 

The Grand Auglaize Bridge in Miller County was also considered by the council. The bridge is the only remaining original suspension bridge in the county, where four have been replaced and two have been renovated according to the presentation. It was approved as a nominee based on its historic value to Miller County.

The Metropolitan Police Garage in St. Louis was accepted as a nominee by the council for its significance as a property associated with historical events. The garage was a centerpiece of the emerging metropolitan police system from the 1920s to the mid-1950s. The garage was used for repairs and for housing police cars and was featured numerous times in “Police Journal” in the 1930s, according to the presentation. The building has since been converted into a warehouse, but still retains much of the original design and features it was built with.

Nominated locations will be submitted to the National Register of Historic Places staff for consideration.

The next council agenda meeting is set for Nov. 20.