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May 16, 2007

Story of colored hospital comes back, thanks to efforts of one man

AMERICUS, Ga. — Sometimes, history can be full of untold stories, or those that may have been buried for decades.

The story of the old Americus Colored Hospital, which is located on Wild Street and is now a day care center and Food Pantry, is one of the stories buried for decades that has recently been brought back in documents, newspaper articles and stories passed from generation to generation. In fact, Willie Cooper is trying to get an historic marker for the building, and he is trying to have the building put on the National Historic Register.

“We want to restore it, put it on the Register and make it into a museum with the original equipment,” he said. Cooper is undertaking the project for the City Federation of Colored Women Inc., a non-profit organization that once took over the hospital, according to its history.

The movement has also gained the backing of local legislators, including state Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus.

“I congratulate Mr. Cooper and his entire efforts to bring to note this very historic building,” Hooks said. “It will be a great addition to Americus ... I am delighted about it, and he has my support.”

Hooks noted that Dr. William Stuart Prather, a key player in the founding to the hospital, also had the Prather Clinic across from First Presbyterian Church, which is now the parking area for the Public Safety Complex.

“That’s where I was born, me and my brothers,” Hooks said in the interview.

A consultant by profession, Cooper said he already undertakes a large amount of research. He is also a member of the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints which sponsors the largest genealogy lab in the world.

“I’ve always been fascinated with history,” Cooper said. “There is merit here for an historical marker and then placement on the National Historic Register.”

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