A movement underway to preserve a piece of Aiken’s past

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)– One South Carolina group started a movement to revive the historic Aiken Hospital, and people rallied support at the site this weekend.

It all started last month when an Aiken native shared the idea on social media. Now the movement to preserve a piece of the past has its own Facebook page with a petition that hundreds have signed.

“For the common purpose of saving the old hospital,” Aiken County Vice Chairman, Andrew Siders, told the crowd of supporters.

With the pass of a microphone, community members gathered to try to save the old Aiken County hospital.

“Would anyone like to speak on behalf on behalf of this, anyone at all?” Siders asked.

Murray Riley, who has lived in AIken since 1951, raised his hand: “This is a building that was constructed so well it would outlast a new building right now…right now,” Riley told supporters.

For Riley, it is more than a building. He watched four of his children enter the world inside of the old hospital’s doors.

Designed by one of Augusta’s most famous architects, Willis Irvin, the four-story Colonial Revival building housed the tools to care for the people of Aiken until 1976. The building then took on Aiken County offices.

After sitting vacant for years, a developer approached the county with plans to revive the bricks, in hopes to construct 60 loft apartments where hospital beds once laid.

“Bryan Haltermann from Augusta, who has a great track record of similar things in Augusta, is willing to take on this project and do something great for our city,” Lucy Knowles, who lives in Aiken. told the crowd.

Also in the crowd… Mayor Rick Osbon. He told me surveys continuously show a big need for housing in the downtown area.

“This property is owned by the county,” Mayor Osbon explained. “We are supporting our brothers and sisters at the county level that if the numbers make sense, we hope you would consider meeting a need that would preserve a building and provide housing.”

“This building, I believe, will not let you down,” Murray assured. “I believe it will live up to your expectations.”

If you want to see the historic Aiken Hospital revived, not demolished, you can sign the petition at the Feel Good Food Truck located on Richland Avenue, The Alley Downtown Taproom located in the Alley and New Moon Café in Aiken on Laurens St.

You can also print a form off of the movements Facebook page, and take a picture, then send it back to the page.

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