Kelley Hospital pic

If all goes as planned, the former Kelley Hospital on the corner of Mill Street and Academy Street will be demolished to make room for a new Williamsburg County Vital Aging Center. The process is only in the planning stages and could take years to become a reality.

Photo by Michaele Duke

A new facility for Vital Aging of Williamsburg is beginning to take shape, though in small increments. Since 1997, Vital Aging, a 501(C)3 non-profit organization, has provided aging services to the senior citizens throughout Williamsburg County.  

Vital Aging Executive Director Robert Welch appeared before Williamsburg County Council December 2, with an update and specifics of the project. “We need your help to build this building,” he said to council. He added the demand for what they do is immense. “This is the fastest growing population segment in Williamsburg County. When I started this job in 2008, it was roughly 18.9%, 60+ of the population. Today, July 1, numbers indicate your population is 29%, 60+ and growing every day, growing every year.”

Staff and members of Vital Aging recently held a second programming meeting with Daniel Saltrick, AIA, President of Beaufort Design Build, LLC, for the conceptual design and planning of the future Murdaugh Center. At present, Vital Aging has been awarded a USDA Rural Development grant for pre-planning purposes only.

The Murdaugh Center will be located on the site of the former Kelley Hospital on the corner of Mill Street and Academy Street.  

Welch said the center will be named in honor of Olin Murdaugh, a former Vital Aging Chairman and City Councilman, who was instrumental in establishing the first center. “Along with Senator Yancey McGill and Representative Ken Kennedy, they saw the need to have local control of aging services and Mr. Murdaugh was recruited and provided the leadership to help organize at that time Vital Aging.”

The S.C. Dept. of Commerce awarded the county a Community Enrichment grant to be used to demo the building. Environmental studies are currently being conducted; however, Welch said it could be three to four years before the doors open. “This is a most important project not just for seniors now but for many generations to come,” said Welch. “And it will help with the revitalization efforts of the city.”