Sturdivant’s ground to get lift

Published 3:07 am Saturday, October 3, 2009

SELMA — The grounds that surround historic Sturdivant Hall will receive a makeover of sorts soon.

The site’s board of directors requested permission last week from the Selma Historic Committee to raze a structure on the grounds, known as the Bates House.

The master plan, which dates to 2003, calls for construction of an enclosed parking area and re-establishment of a fig orchard on the site, said Dr. Jere Dillard, the board’s chair.

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Historical documents relating to the site show a fig orchard was present in the 1800s, Dillard said.

The board also wants to construct a storage building to serve several purposes.

Because of the number of weddings and receptions held at Sturdivant Hall, Dillard said the board would want to build a structure to include a caterer’s kitchen.

The kitchen design would lend itself to holding food. It would not be a full preparation kitchen, Dillard told the commission.

The outside of the new structure, which the physician called a “storage building” would resemble a stable.

“We’ll put hitching posts up front,” Dillard said, but no horses.

The board would keep a lawn mower in back; the prep kitchen would be up front and the rest of the structure would be storage area.

Demolition of the Bates House, which was constructed in 1938, won’t begin until the commission has a demolition report from an engineer, said Patty Sexton, the city’s historic preservation and revitalization coordinator.

“It is unsafe,” Dillard said of the house. “the house is deteriorating. We’re afraid some child will get up there and get hurt.”

Sturdivant Hall is bordered by Mabry and Union Streets and McLeod Avenue.

It was constructed in 1853.