Preservationists throw the best parties. Last week in Tupelo, we kicked off the Listen Up! Historic Preservation Conference with a tour of the historic Highland Circle neighborhood led by Bruce Smith, then repaired to Doyce and Bill Deas’ lovely home and garden to visit with old friends, make some new friends and reflect on a year of accomplishments for the Mississippi Heritage Trust. A new group of officers was elected, with Susan Higgs of Hattiesburg taking over as President, Brian Pugh of Brandon as Vice President, Lynn Shurden of Cleveland as Treasurer and Martha Duvall of Pascagoula as Secretary. Many thanks to our outgoing officers, Brad Reeves of Jackson, President, Susan Higgs, Vice President, Brian Pugh, Treasurer and Stuart Rockoff of Jackson, Secretary for giving so generously of their time and talent. We had five board members retire after six years on the board-thank you to Jim Kopernak of Jackson, Mayor Bill Luckett of Clarksdale, John Rings of Jackson, Bethany Stich of New Orleans and Amanda Jones Tollison of Oxford for their service to the Mississippi Heritage Trust.
Five bright new faces will take their places on the board this year. Phyllis Doby of Madison describes her passion for preservation by saying:
Many years ago my husband, Clinton, and I fell in love with the rural area of Madison County known as Mannsdale and decided to make our home there. The historic Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church became our family’s place of worship and there we embraced the people and stories of this beautiful land. When preservation efforts became necessary along Highway 463, residents banded together to form Mannsdale Heritage Foundation which was instrumental in helping establish the Mannsdale-Livingston Heritage Preservation Overlay District. In 2007 this District was chosen as one of Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered due to the potential of a major 4 lane project that could bring an influx of trucking traffic through the heart of our rural countryside. I have recently worked with other preservationists to enact legislation to have our area designated as the Gateway to History Scenic Byway. This prestigious designation offers opportunities in preservation, beautification, tourism and recreation and will help show others that this area is indeed special and worthy of all of our efforts to save its rural historic atmosphere.
Swayze Pentecost of Jackson, a former staff member of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will also be serving on the board. These days, Swayze is helping to make wishes come true through her work with the Make A Wish Foundation. While majoring in interior design, she quickly realized how much the past affected design and decided to focus her studies on those past designs and how to preserve the best of the past for the future.
J. Carter Burns of Jackson brings a lifelong love of history to the board. “Growing up in Natchez, I always had an appreciation for historic architecture and saw firsthand the positive influence that historic preservation had on the community. The Mississippi Heritage Trust is an important statewide tool to help preserve and foster the unique places that make up Mississippi’s cultural identity”, said Burns.
Also joining the board are Annette Vise and Dr. Rico Chapman, both of Jackson. Welcome!