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  • Writer's pictureGM Shay

Charity Begins at Home

Postcard image of the original Charity Hospital which is now part of Heritage Place in Cuyler-Brownsville

Savannah’s Charity Hospital began as one of Georgia’s first places for training African-American doctors and nurses in 1896. The original wooden building was replaced in 1931 by the brick building standing proudly in our Cuyler-Brownville neighborhood today. Two generations of Savannian's (and including the father of Meredith Stone, one of our associates) from this community were born here.  Nearby, the 1929 Florance Street School building served many of this community with quality education and leadership development, including future Mayor Edna Branch Jackson.  Together these became the pillars of this area, now a Savannah Historic District.


In 2002, the buildings were rescued from neglect and converted into affordable housing by the Sisters of Mercy and their affiliates, becoming the foundation of Mercy Housing SouthEast.  Two additional apartment buildings were constructed and the site was collectively known as Heritage Place Apartments. Today we are proud to be the architects that have designed the complete rehabilitation of that housing, working with Mercy Housing and Choate Construction to give these buildings a new lease on life


More importantly, these renovated historic landmarks will provide high quality and affordable housing to another generation of Cuyler-Brownville residents!  As we have learned, helping people that might otherwise be without shelter to have a safe and dignified home is vital to their ability to lead healthy productive lives.


Working with a team of designers and associates, Latoya Waters has painstakingly photographed and documented  existing conditions, often working within resident’s homes while they watched.  This documentation became the foundation for the design of repairs and major rehabilitation—replacing kitchens, bathrooms, windows, light fixtures, air conditioning systems and adding a healthy dose of her Jamaican style to the interiors.  Also the surrounding gardens, play spaces and common amenities will be renovated and given some love.  Working with Mercy Housing and Choate Construction, everything has been priced for construction and financed to begin work soon.


It has been particularly gratifying to help implement Mercy Housing’s detailed plans for finding alternative housing for existing residents during construction, relocating them, and for offering those same residents “first dibs” on the renovated dwellings when they are completed.  Those Sisters of Mercy would be proud of these efforts.


Charity is defined as the voluntary giving of help to those in need.  This began with Charity Hospital, where many of the patients were given their care, and it continues today.


You see, Charity Begins at Home, and having a home is the foundation of charity.


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