Corrected 7/24: This story was corrected to clarify that the hospital operated in the building for only about a decade. The original version of this story incorrectly stated that the building housed the hospital from 1855 until 1964. We regret the error.
Historic Brewster Hospital in Jacksonville’s LaVilla neighborhood could soon become the North Florida Land Trust’s new headquarters.
The two-story building at the corner of Monroe and Davis streets was the city’s only African-American hospital and nursing school.
Jacksonville Historical Society President Emily Lisska says it was originally the home of a local meat cutter and became Brewster Hospital around the turn of the century for about a decade. Then came a string of other tenants.
“It did sit vacant for many years but it was moved in 2005, over numerous protests, from its historic location of 915 West Monroe Street to 843 West Monroe Street,” she said.
Lisska said the building was moved because a developer bought the original property.
“The building is listed on the National Register, and it played an important role in our city’s story and our nation’s story as the first hospital for blacks in Jacksonville,” she said.
Lisska applauds the decision by the North Florida Land Trust to move into the building because, she said, occupancy is the best way to keep it from falling into ruin.
Land Trust President Jim McCarthy said it’s the perfect building in terms of price, location and the message it sends about the nonprofit, which buys and preserves ecologically, agriculturally, and historically significant lands.
“We’re here. We’re legitimate. We’re doing really good things in our community, not only in terms of the wide open spaces but historic properties," he said. "We were founded in 1999, and here we are in 2017 and we’ve arrived.”
The city of Jacksonville owns the building, and McCarthy says the Land Trust will spend as much as $300,000 on renovations.
The Downtown Investment Authority recently OK'd a deal for the Land Trust to have the option to buy the building after occupying it for five years. That deal now goes to the Jacksonville City Council for final approval. The Council is expected to take up the issue when it meets in August.
The Land Trust hopes to move in sometime this fall.