MissPres News Roundup 7-24-09

Here’s some goings-on that you might find interesting.

July 12, 2009: An obituary in the Hays (FL) Daily News for architect and planner Raymond L. Eaton, who died July 7, 2009. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Eaton was a partner in Lewis-Eaton, the successor firm to Overstreet, Ware, Ware, & Lewis.

July 16, 2009:For sale: One bridge spanning the Mississippi River,” a longer and more complete story of the Mississippi River Bridge at Greenville, being offered by MDOT for sale, with demolition in its future if, as expected, there are no buyers.

Walthall County Training School (Ginntown School), Tylertown. Built in 1921 to the standardized Rosenwald plan #400

Walthall County Training School (Ginntown School), Tylertown. Built in 1921 to the standardized Rosenwald plan #400.

July 18, 2009: Obituary in the Clarion-Ledger for Mrs. Virgia Bridges Palmer, which notes that she attended the Hopewell Rosenwald School in Simpson County and taught at its successor school for many years. For those of you unfamiliar with Rosenwald Schools, there were over 5,000 school buildings built for mostly rural African American students from 1913-1932 in the Southern states. Mississippi itself had over 550, but because most of them were in the Delta, the survival rate is extremely low–only about 15-20 still stand, including the Walthall County Training School outside of Tylertown. Mississippi’s Rosenwald schools were placed on MHT’s 10 Most Endangered List in 2001. Read more about Rosenwald Schools at the National Trust’s Rosenwald Initiative site and you can research specific schools at the Fisk University site, where the Rosenwald archives are housed. You can also view a very cool information card for the Walthall County Training School by clicking here.

July 18, 2009: A follow-up article in the NE MS Daily Journal on the Spain House in Tupelo, which as you might recall from a previous News Roundup, is threatened by demolition by the First Baptist Church: “Spain House to stay put for right now

July 19, 2009: An article in the Vicksburg Post about the lack of progress in the Port Gibson Hwy 61/Church Street widening project, “Port Gibson work stalled in time“:

A year after a plan to four-lane U.S. 61 through Port Gibson provoked a dispute between state agencies, the Mississippi Department of Transportation has yet to begin work on its proposal to alter the section of highway that passes through town as Church Street.

“We have gotten no contracts, and there has been no work to pursue any alternative,” said Kevin Magee, MDOT’s district engineer.  “At this point, I can’t tell you exactly what direction we will go in, or when we will go in that direction.”

The inaction has provided some hope to local residents who favor accomplishing the 61 expansion by building a bypass east of Port Gibson, according to a leader of the campaign to “save Church Street.”

I agree with Jane Ellis–“no news is good news.” It’s unfortunate that preservationists have to play the role of obstructionists in this case, but sometimes those in power (in this case MDOT) leave us no choice but to lay down in front of the bulldozers. Those of you who have had the opportunity to drive (or better yet walk) down Church Street in Port Gibson will agree that this National Register Historic District is worth the fight. Hopefully, as passions cool on both sides, we can all sit down and work through a solution that accomplishes the widening and leaves Church Street alone.

July 20, 2009: A headline that made me cringe in the McComb Enterprise-Journal: Liberty School plans held up by preservation assessments,” although I thought the article, which discussed the admittedly difficult-for-non-wonks-to-understand Section 106 process, was mostly fair. I especially liked this quote: 

Waggoner told the board members Thursday that the plans could be revised to keep the original windows and reduce the slope of the proposed metal roof so it would retain a slope but appear to be flat.

He added that by keeping the windows and reducing the roof slope, the school district could possibly save money on the project.

That’s quite an admission, and one that reinforces what we preservationists say, which is that preservation is often less costly than non-preservation. Well, that’s not as catchy as what we probably should say, but it’s the thought that counts. This quote, I’m not so excited about:

Waggoner and board attorney Nathaniel Armistad said they would meet with Woodrick and other state archives officials about the plans.

“I think we need to point out that the school board is in a good position to determine how the school should be repaired,” Armistad said.

Hmm, except that some of the recommendations seem to be saving the board money.

Well, that’s all the news that’s fit to blog–have a great weekend! I’m continuing to enjoy this amazing weather we’re having–it won’t last, so drink it in while you can.

Categories: Bridges, Historic Preservation, News Roundups, Port Gibson, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Recent Past, Renovation Projects, Schools, Tupelo, Vicksburg

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