It wasn't always that way. The Staats brothers, including one who was a doctor, built the hospital and opened it in 1922, Henry Battle, president of the Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society, has said. The building was designed by John Norman, one of the first registered black architects in West Virginia.
Businesses on the first floor of the building included an A&P grocery store and Kelley's Department Store. The building also contained the entrance to the Grand Theater, the first theater on the West Side, according to Battle.
Eventually, Johnson said, West Side Main Street would move its offices into the first floor of the building. "As a Main Street program, we really want to be visible to the community," she said.
She said she'd also like to see a bakery and coffee shop on the first floor, something she said the West Side lacks.
The remaining three floors of the building would be leased out to businesses, Johnson said.
West Side Main Street hopes a final sale agreement with the building's current owner, Larry Kopelman, can be reached in the next few months, and the sale could be completed before the end of the year.
Earlier this year, Kopelman said the building "needs complete remodeling." He said he and other owners were "looking for anyone, either West Side Main Street as a conduit or a catalyst, or an independent third party."
Johnson said she hopes the deal works out, for more than one reason.
"I have heard so many stories about the residents on the West Side going to the hospital when they were children," she said. "It's for our organization, yes, but it's also about giving the residents back a piece of history that belongs to them."
Reach Greg Moore at gmo...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1211.