Wow! I can’t believe it’s March already. Lots of Spring events on the calendar to take advantage of, so be sure to check it out. Now for the news:
The biggest story I saw this week was from Natchez, where the Democrat reported that United Mississippi Bank was expected to assume ownership of Monmouth during foreclosure proceedings. This National Historic Landmark (NHL) building was once the home of John A. Quitman – Mexican-American War hero, governor of Mississippi and a United States congressman. While the bank would assume ownership, New Orleans Hotel Consultants might possibly handing the actual management of the property. The company also currently manages the Natchez Grand Hotel and the Natchez Convention Center through a contract with the city. A representative of the company, who met with the bank to discuss managing the property, told the paper that “the bank intends to do everything they can to keep Monmouth open.”
Also in Natchez – a story I missed including last week about King’s Tavern closing its doors. The restaurant had been in operation for 45 years, but the most recent economic conditions and some health problems for one of the owners made closing down a necessity. The Democrat calls the building “the oldest in the state,” going on to say that is “has been standing for 243 years dating back to when it was an outpost along the Natchez Trace.” The MDAH database gives a date of c.1795-1800 and says it’s the oldest in Natchez, but I think our friends on the Coast get to claim the oldest building in the state with the c. 1721 “Old Spanish Fort.” That slight digression aside, nothing in the article indicated what the plans were for the building now that the restaurant is closed.
One more Natchez story this week. Natchez National Historic Park has received a grant that is allowing them to hire Mary Ruggin Hanbury to come to the area and give a professional evaluation of how local historic property owners can make the house tour experience better. Our friend Kathleen Jenkins told the paper “[Hanbury] is going to be working this spring about identifying best practices, just to try to get our house tour experience ready for the 21st century market.” Hanbury will be meeting face-to-face with property owners and there will be a questionnaire for homeowners and visitors during Spring Pilgrimage. The results of Hanbury’s evaluation should be completed by the summer. If you’re planning on going to Natchez for Pilgrimage over the next few weeks, I hope you find one of the questionnaires and give some really good, constructive feedback for them to work with.
Moving to Jackson for a story about the former Mississippi School for the Blind – an early “Abandoned Mississippi” property featured here on MissPres. The Clarion Ledger reports that plans are underway to redevelop the site into a new mixed-use space they’re going to call “The District at Eastover.” Plans include: “a 100,000-square-foot office building, an 80- to 120-room hotel, a 45,000-square-foot grocer, a restaurant, 125,000 square feet of retail and 120,000 square feet of residential units – perhaps apartments or condominiums.” Early plans also included a movie theater (which one of my Jackson friends was really excited about), but this story tells us that was one of the things that has been cut to make the costs work. All of this will involve, apparently, the total demolition of the school site.
Also in Jackson this week, City Council gave the okay for Jackson Redevelopment Authority to “begin bond talks with developers of several major projects in downtown.” Projects specifically mentioned in the article were “the Farish Street Entertainment District, the Old Capitol Green development, and a proposed nine-story Westin hotel.” The Clarion Ledger specifies that this was a procedural step – and that no bonds have been issued (that requires an additional step). I think Farish Street is getting a lot of the attention in this one – especially since Council wants the developers to be more forthcoming with documentation requested in order to be considered for additional funding.
The “happy one” is from the “Then & Now” feature in the Hattiesburg paper on the Ross Building.
Categories: Abandoned Mississippi, Biloxi, Cool Old Places, Hattiesburg, Heritage Tourism, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Natchez, National Park Service, News Roundups, Preservation People/Events, Renovation Projects