Disclaimer: I just roundup the news stories, so don’t shoot the messenger . . .
Might as well start with the worst of it . . . the crazy weather lately has causes major damage to the Corinth Machinery Building. W. White wrote up a little background on the building during the 101 Places Voting process (just in case you’re not familiar with the building). Locals have been trying for a while to get someone to invest in the structure and find a new use. Compare the photo here with the one on the Northeast Mississippi Journal story page and you’ll probably be as pessimistic about the future of the building now as I am. The only “silver lining” I can find is that the story cited Miss Pres – which is nice for us, but I’d rather have seen something about good about the future of the building . . .
Staying with the NEMS Journal, a trio of stories related a residence known as the Rogers House in Tupelo. The first story says that the house (built in 1937 as an exact replica of a house that was destroyed by the 1936 tornado), along with a couple of others are in danger of demolistion by First Baptist for parking space. Specifically regarding the Rogers House, a spokesman for the church told the paper that “the church acquired it for the sole purpose of demolishing it and constructing more parking lots.” This first story was about the Tupelo Historic Preservation Commission recommending it be designated as a local landmark to help prevent it’s demolition. The story also notes a lot of local support for SAVING the building – including church members and Senator Roger Wicker. Unlike other buildings we see in danger of demolition by churches, the Rogers House is actually in use by a non-profit that rents the space from the church. The head of the non-profit – a church deacon – told the paper he loves the house and would hate to see it torn down.
Before you say “JR, this sounds like good news for preservation” – a second story about First Baptist and their plans hit the wires. This one focused on another house in First Baptist’s parking expansion plan. The Whitfield House – which is older than the the Rogers House – was voted to be demolished to create about 30 new parking spaces. Like the Rogers House, however, the space in the Whitfield House is currently being used. This second story did not mention any attempt (yet?) by the Tupelo HPC to step in again, but maybe they’ll consider designating this one as well.
The third story was a brief Q&A with the Chair of the Tupelo HPC about the HPC, the importance of preservation and the designation process. I hate that the turmoil with demolitions proposed by First Baptist are clouded around this story, but I like it overall. It’s something that works in and for any size community.
More demolition in the news down on the Coast. In Biloxi, the ongoing efforts to get property owners to work on their blighted buildings has led to the first demolition. The Sun Herald reports that the Surfside Movie Theater on the Biloxi Strip had crews working to tear it down this past Tuesday and three more East Biloxi commercial buildings are also scheduled for demolition – including “[t]he distinctive blue Hancock Bank building.” It does sound like other buildings city officials were going after with these efforts will get some work done, but I hate that it’s not working for all of them.
First, in Meridian, the Fielder and Brooks Drug Store (which received a Civil Rights Sites Grant last year) is getting some additional funds from the National Trust to help fund a structural report on the building. This is the building that housed a COFO office – and was the office the four activists murdered in the “Mississippi Burning” case were based out of. The grant is small – just over $2,000 – but as we all know, every little bit helps.
Also in Meridian, is sounds like the on-going City Hall renovation is coming to a conclusion since the Star reports that the dedication of the building is set for January 31. City staff will move in the first couple of weeks of February. If anyone goes next week, maybe you’ll do a write up and share some photos with the rest of us . . .
Finally, our friends at Historic Natchez Foundation have hired a new deputy director – Trevor Brown – who will start in March after spending the past five years working for Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s Gulf Coast office with post-Katrina recovery efforts. At the same meeting when the community officially met Brown, HNF also gave out their annual awards – a list of which can be found here.
Here’s hoping that my next roundup is full of better news . . .
Categories: Biloxi, Civil Rights, Corinth, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Meridian, Mississippi Landmarks, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, National Trust, News Roundups, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Preservation People/Events, Renovation Projects, Tupelo