Ominous, five-eyed light fixtures stare down from the ceiling while roaming through the halls of the University of West Georgia’s Newnan Campus. The bulbous surgery lamps now remain as fossils of the location’s former function less than 10 years ago.
While a majority of in-person students attend classes in Carrollton’s main campus, many students, staff and faculty commute to UWG’s satellite campus to attend classes. Many of them are nursing students who greatly benefit the campus’ previous incarnation as Newnan Hospital.
“First of all, it was just gonna be a nursing school,” says Helen Moore Camp, the Recording and Corresponding Secretary of Newnan’s Genealogical Society. “They started [the nursing program] at the other [campus], but they weren’t really as equipped.”
Built in 1925, the Newnan Hospital began as an “eleemosynary institution,” another way of saying supported through charity, according to the Centennial Magazine archived by the Genealogical Society and published by the Newnan Times-Herald in 1965. By 1924, the people and businesses of Coweta County pooled almost $1,000,000 to fund Newnan Hospital’s construction, equalling about $20 million dollars in today’s economy.
In 1939, during a time of segregation and the infancy of the Civil Rights movement, the hospital opened the Rocky Hill section for black patients, becoming one of only 10 hospitals in all of Georgia serving black Americans in “greater facilities.”
Meanwhile, West Georgia initially began their Newnan Center in 1988 within borrowed high school classrooms, according to UWG’s website records. In 1989, they moved into Georgia Power Company’s Environment & Education Center located in Shenandoah Industrial Park. Georgia Power eventually vacated and the Coweta County Commission bought the property and allowed the University to continue operating under a lease until finally donating the property in 2009. Within those 20 plus years, Newnan Center Nursing graduates received top scores and heightened Coweta County’s general growth as a healthcare epicenter.
In 2012, the Old Newnan Hospital was vacated in favor of newer locations and offered to West Georgia specifically for their Nursing program. The hospital reopened for the University in 2015 and over the years, the campus offered more classes in other disciplines while still remaining largely focused on nursing.
With 89 years of operation, the Hospital served hundreds of patients and like every hospital, circled around human life and death. Now the building serves dozens of future nurses and medical workers among other students. Acquiring the hospital gave UWG a wealth of resources for their Nursing program.
Even today, the campus utilizes the morgue to house dummy cadavers in the basement and on the second floor they stage simulated tests within a mock living room environment featuring a dressed up manikin.
“Even in the way [the building] is now, there aren’t any living bodies in there, but there are ‘bodies’ in there,” says Camp.
In this current season, the spirit of Halloween surfaces on every street and a former hospital location seems to fit the haunted vibes among the downtown neighbors. The Centennial Magazine describes the Old Newnan Hospital’s outside as an “ante-bellum hotel,” but now, inside the red bricked walls the past echoes through the surgery light fixtures, the motherboard art pinned on the walls and the notably cold stairwells. Whether the Old Newnan Hospital is haunted remains a mystery to hopefuls and an impossibility to skeptics, but regardless of the spooky fall atmosphere, the Old Newnan Hospital revives as a historical monument and into a new husk for education.
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