Physicians & Surgeons Building

The Physicians & Surgeons Building at 501 W. Washington St. has housed physicians since 1929 and members of the Lucas family since 1939. By the end of the month, Dr. John F. Lucas III will be moved to offices inside of Greenwood Leflore Hospital in a cost-cutting move.

By the end of this month, history will give way to economy on the corner of Washington and Henderson streets when for the first time in 80 years there will be no one named Lucas practicing medicine in the Physicians and Surgeons Building.

Actually, there will be no doctors at all inside the building, although building owner Dr. John F. Lucas Jr. said Monday, “I’m looking for somebody, and they don’t even have to have the name Lucas.”

Greenwood Leflore Hospital, with more available space than money, will move Dr. John F. Lucas III and his staff into offices being readied in a previously unoccupied space in the hospital.

It’s a move Lucas III understands. “The hospital has a lot of empty space,” he said, adding it was built when health care allowed for more inpatient treatment and the population of Leflore County was greater.

The Physicians and Surgeons Building opened June 29, 1929, when the country was still four months away from the stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression; Herbert Hoover was president; a man named Frank Hawks set a coast-to-coast round-trip flying record of 36 hours, 48 minutes and some seconds; and a new Chevrolet dealership opened shop at the corner of George and Church streets.

The building was built by a surgeon, Dr. J. Preston Kennedy, and was described in the Commonwealth as “one of the most complete, most beautiful and thoroughly modern that Greenwood has.”

Seven years later, in 1936, John Fair Lucas moved to town and opened a practice. In 1939 he bought the building and practiced medicine there for the next 40 years, until 1979.

Lucas Jr. joined his father in the building, as a surgeon, in 1963 and practiced for 45 years until 2008. In 1988, Lucas III brought his surgical practice to the building.

Will Lucas III miss it? “Oh, yeah. I used to go to the pediatrician there as a youth,” he said. “... That’s the only place I’ve ever practiced in 31 years.”

Lucas III understands the inefficiency of only one surgeon occupying the building since Dr. Douglas E. Bowden took his surgical practice to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Grenada at the end of 2018. With time spent at the hospital and in surgery, Lucas III said he’s usually only at the office a couple days a week.

He said his staff would relocate with him to the new offices inside the hospital and would also be able to share in some other duties for the hospital, creating another efficiency.

Lucas Jr. said he’s considered whether any of his six grandchildren currently in medical school or residency could be the fourth generation to occupy the Physicians and Surgeons Building.

“They’re all good students,” he said. “And I’m sure they’re going to do well, but I don’t think we’re going to see them back in Greenwood.”

Lucas Jr. mentioned that his grandfather and first wife’s grandfather had also been doctors.

Asked if he had given thought to why so many generations and members of the Lucas family have been attracted to medicine, he said, “I just think we can’t find anything else to do.”

•Contact Gavin Maliska at 581-7235 or gmaliska@gwcommonwealth.com.

 

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