A historic building located on the Malbis Plantation will be demolished to clear space for Thomas Hospital’s proposed freestanding emergency clinic following the Baldwin County Commission’s decision to overturn a decision from Architecture Preservation Review Board this morning.
At its Nov. 20 meeting, the county’s Architectural Preservation Review Board denied a request from Malbis Plantation Inc. to demolish the men’s dormitory on the property, which is one of 35 resources contributing to the plantation’s historic designation. The dormitory is a two-story brick building constructed in 1956 to house male members of Malbis Plantation Inc. Currently, the structure is vacant.
On Tuesday, commissioners unanimously voted to overturn the decision.
Mobile Infirmary’s real estate arm, Gulf Health Properties, plans to construct a freestanding emergency clinic on property at the southwest corner of the intersection of State Route 181 and U.S. Highway 90 in Daphne. The Infirmary plans to close on the property in late January.
Commissioners questioned whether a property built in the 1950s should be considered historic.
The men’s dormitory is listed on the National Park Service’s Register of Historic Places, and the Malbis Plantation has previously been designated as a historic district by the commission — one of four designated historic sites in the county. The list also includes land in the Point Clear-Battles Wharf, Magnolia Springs and Montrose areas.
“I’m old enough to know that 50 years does not necessarily mean something is historic,” Commissioner Frank Burt said. “If it is, my house and barn I built would be considered historic.”
Malbis Plantation Inc. attorney Richard Davis said he has advised the plantation’s corporation to treat the building as a liability, not an asset. He said the Infirmary’s construction plans will utilize techniques to enhance the historical nature of the plantation.
“The building contains lead paint and asbestos,” Davis argued. “I am confident the (Architecture Preservation Review Board), this commission and the public will be satisfied with the final architectural product.”
Earlier this month, the Baldwin County Planning Commission gave its approval to a request from Malbis Plantation Inc. to rezone a 3.78-acre parcel at the site from residential single family to B-2 neighborhood business. Davis said the parcel closest to 181 is already zoned B-2. The County Commission will consider that request in January.
The Malbis Plantation Historic District was recently named to the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual “Places in Peril” list, identifying the property as one of five historically significant places in the state under redevelopment pressure or facing neglect.