Mount Vernon, AL (WKRG)
A small piece of fading history will see new life this Christmas season. The Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Society is raising money to restore one building on the grounds of the old Searcy Hospital. Inside this old mansion, Bill Davies shows me around the first floor of the remodeled McCafferty House. At one time it was home to Searcy Hospital Superintendent E. L. McCafferty in the early to mid-20th century.
“We’ve kind of brought it back to the day when he would have worked here,” said Chairman of the Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Society. The volunteer group has turned the first floor into a beautiful home for Christmas trees and decorations. Through negotiation with the state of Alabama, the group has been slowly restoring the mansion. They envision turning it into a place for weddings and special events.
“And get it to where it can generate money for itself so it can perpetuate the restoration of this property and surrounding properties,” said Davies. The first floor of this mansion is one small bright spot in a large piece of state history that’s slowly fading away. The state of Alabama closed Searcy Hospital in 2012. Many of the 19th-century buildings are dilapidated and the 20th-century buildings are dormant.
“It was built as a fort and people couldn’t get in, the second hundred years it was a mental hospital and people couldn’t get out so people don’t know what kind of a jewel we have here,” said Davies. For now, this mansion is the only jewel the Historic Preservation Society can polish. The state still owns the hundreds of acres property and buildings with no clear plans for what to do with the rest.
The Historic Preservation Society of Mount Vernon will hold its second annual nights of lights at the McCafferty House for the next two weekends. It will be Friday and Saturday evenings from six to nine on December 9th, 10th, 16th, and 17th. Tickets are five dollars and available at the door.