Our crack reporter, W. White, has finished exams at MSU (or maybe just got kicked out?) and headed back Alabama way for the summer, where he no doubt will waste his substance in riotous living before coming back to Starkville next fall. As you know, W. White took over the Roundup duties back in March and instantly invigorated the series with his ironic jabs at various non-preservationists.
I admire W’s initiative, and if any of y’all would like to be a newsman (or woman) for the summer, please let me know. Otherwise, you’ll be back to just me, boring ol’ Malvaney, who tries not to offend anyone or make any waves.
Not only have I gotten out of the habit of keeping up with the news each week while W has been responsible for the Roundups, I’ve also been out of the country entirely for a while and instead of catching up on my reading this last week, I’ve spent most of my time looking out the window and wishing I were outside. I hope you’ll bear with me the next couple of weeks as I get back on my feet.
So what’s going on out in the MissPres universe?
The Town of Summit, in Pike County, has started the process of adopting a preservation ordinance, according to an article in the April 27, 2010, Enterprise-Journal, “Summit panel adopts preservation ordinance.” According to the article, the Summit Historic Preservation Commission
“adopted an ordinance [actually the commission can't adopt an ordinance, they can only recommend its adoption to the town's Council] outlining the town’s historic district along with rules to enforce exterior changes made to buildings there–a plan one commissioner called ‘a tremendous protection for our homes.’
The move began a months-long process that will put the town’s two-year-old historic preservation laws into motion. Before it takes effect, the ordinance awaits the conclusion of a 45-day period for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to review it, at least one public hearing, and approval from the town council. That could be ‘conceivably four months,’ according to commissioner Trudy Berger.”
The article goes on to explain that a survey of historic buildings in town is coming to a close and that the commission also desires to move forward with getting a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a separate process from the local historic district ordinance.
The Vicksburg Post had a nice article on April 10 “Preserving History” about the biologist Dr. Mary Landin, who has received the Daughters of the American Revolution’s (DAR) 2009 Outstanding Volunteer Genealogist award for her work to preserve the records of the state’s cemeteries.
A Victorian house in Pascagoula’s Orange Avenue Historic District has been renovated into a bed-and-breakfast and meeting space after years as a Knights of Columbus hall, according to “Historic home gets new life as B&B” in the Mississippi Press. The owners, the Steiners, had only just bought the building before Katrina, and initially did not plan to open a business of their own, but instead planned to lease it out as an investment:
The Steiners said that after Katrina, they learned from Pascagoula resident Liz Ford that grants were available to restore historic homes damaged in the storm.
They applied for and received a $150,000 Mississippi Department of Archives and History grant, which allowed them to perform basic roof and foundation repairs, but not much else.
Family discussions led to the idea for a B&B, and the Steiners ended up pouring much, much more into the restoration. They decline to reveal the amount, but people who have seen the house agree that it looks like “a million bucks” and is just as elegant as similar establishments in larger cities like Mobile.
The Steiners are passionate about Pascagoula, and hope revitalizing their corner of the Orange Street Historic District will be part of a larger downtown and riverfront plan.
“We’re hoping that it will inspire that person who has always wanted to open their own little dress or book shop to go ahead and do it,” Debbie Steiner said. “I would like to help get people motivated to rejuvenate downtown. So many people have forgotten what it used to be like.”
According to the Itawamba County Times, “Gaither House accepted as city property,” one of the oldest houses in Fulton, the Cates-Gaither House (or “The Cedars”), might be saved after it was thought it might be torn down by the Methodist Church. Instead, the church has given the house to the city, which accepted the gift this week. W. White introduced us all to this ante-bellum house in his News Roundup of April 1. A private preservation group, Preserving Itawamba County’s History’s (PICH), is raising funds to move the house to nearby lot but has been having difficulty obtaining grants because the house is owned by a religious organization (I personally have encountered this difficulty and think it’s ridiculous, but it’s a reality of the era we live in), so this change in ownership may free up funds previously unavailable. This move by the Board of Aldermen also brings the house under the City’s insurance policy, which is one less thing for PICH to raise money for.
And last, a good article in the Brookhaven Daily-Leader, “Tillman discusses historic of black schools,” recounts a talk by Annie Tillman, a long-time educator, to the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society about her experience in the Negro rural schools of the county in the 1940s and 1950s. While a few high schools were provided for African American students, rural children had to find their own transportation or walk long distances to get there:
“In those days you got to school as best you could,” she said.
The story was basically the same for the students of all Lincoln County’s black schools, and there were many – Damascus, Topisaw, Norfield, New Hope, Antioch, Mt. Moriah and more. Tillman said most of the schools had five to 10 students per grade and were staffed by a single teacher, sometimes two.
Eventually, the small community schools were consolidated into three major black schools – Progress High School, Friendship High School and Lincoln County Training School.
Friendship was one of the oldest schools, Tillman said, and existed prior to consolidation. Lincoln County Training School was built in 1924 with money donated by Sears, Roebuck and Co. [this was a Rosenwald school], and served southern Lincoln County. Several schools in the northwest area of the county joined to form Progress, which was built in 1950 and saw its first class attend in 1951.
In 1958, construction began on Eva Harris School in Brookhaven, and soon all three black consolidated county schools were combined there. The first class graduated in 1961, and later that year parts of the county were annexed into the Brookhaven district, extended transportation to black students for the first time.
It was too late for Tillman, who had already graduated walking.