Wow – it’s been about a month since our last Round-up. Before we delve into catching up on the news, don’t forget to vote in the latest 101 Places poll and in the National Trust’s “This Place Matters Community Challenge” contest. Now for the news:
A lot of preservation news out of Columbus the past few weeks. First, the demolition of the “Friendship House” (which Malvaney posted here, but the Dispatch covers here) isn’t quite out of the news yet. The Dispatch ran a piece summarizing the saga of “Friendship House” and noted that the demolition has “left some preservationists and supporters asking what can be done in the future to prevent similar cases.” We will have to see what the city and the preservation commission comes up with. The city renewed the terms of some HPC members whose terms were about to expire and appointed a couple of new commissioners, so there might be enough “fresh start” kind of energy to get something going.
One of the reasons I think there’s some renewed energy in Columbus commission in recent weeks is that the Dispatch also reported that the HPC is looking to expand their historic district. The area that they are looking at is the Southside neighborhood, which includes a variety of architectural styles “from massive antebellum mansions to quaint Victorian houses to World War II-era bungalows.” While the article describes the process for creating or expanding a local historic district, the reporter writes that it would be “the city’s first residential historic district registered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.” My first thought was that the reporter was confusing the National Trust with the National Register – but the area described is already a National Register District. So my second thought is that the reporter is confused.
Last from Columbus, the 1953 Hunt Intermediate School is undergoing some renovations. When Hunt opened, it was the all-black high school. It closed as a city school in January but the district will be moving their “alternative school, testing department and special education portion of the office of federal programs from central office to Hunt.” It sounds like the work they are doing is minimal impact on the building.
Last week Malvaney mentioned the Hotel Meridian and at least one of the comments mentioned that there was talk about needing more hotel space downtown. Well, I didn’t find anything on the Hotel Meridian, but I did find this article from the Meridian Star that said Meridian officials are working with developers on a downtown hotel project. This is a project that started out as a competing vision to one that would have turned the Threefoot Building into needed hotel space. Now the vision is that the endangered building would be a mixed use building and the needed hotel would be located on the same block. We’ll have to keep an eye on this one.
A story I caught in the Clarion Ledger reported on some plans in Gautier to look at restoring and finding a new use for the West Pascagoula Colored School. According to the article, “the vision for the old schoolhouse is for it to become the historical, cultural and instructive focal point of the community.” The city is applying for a grant from the state to help undo the effects of storm damage and neglect. I’m not sure which grant program they are looking at – but the description of matching 20% sounds like the Community Heritage Grant program that Archives and History manages. Right now, I’m doubting it’s that program since 1) the school is not a Mississippi Landmark and 2) MDAH doesn’t have a grant round open right now, but they might be anticipated a round open soon. I do applaud the commission for garnering support from the city on a preservation project and I hope they’re able to restore the building.
Also in the Clarion Ledger recently was a story out of Clinton regarding some demolitions in Olde Towne that were approved back in April because the buildings had been condemned. One of the buildings was immediately torn down, but a couple of the others were awaiting inspection for possible asbestos. Now, the owner is challenging the city’s actions and asking for more time to do something with the properties. The city is giving them 30 days to present plans before resuming the demolition proceedings.
Down in Natchez, the Democrat ran a story on the official opening of “Natchez Trails” – a project that started in 2004 to develop signs through different parts of the city. There are four color-coded trails throughout the city. I look forward to seeing them on my next visit down that way.Our final story also comes out of the western part of the state. Right after Memorial Day, the Democrat reported that residents of the small community of Rodney estimate that 95% of the town was flooded. One of the pictures that accomanied the story showed the Rodney Presbyterian Church, luckily without water in it, but just feet away. As the water goes down, I’m sure our friends at MDAH will be heading out to Rodney and other communities along the Mississippi and I hope they’ll share with us news about which old buildings were affected by the flood.
Categories: Clinton, Columbus, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Gautier, Historic Preservation, Natchez, News Roundups, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Preservation People/Events, Renovation Projects