Well, there’s just too much preservation news to keep up with this week, so as of today the MissPres vacation is officially over.
Sept. 11, 2009: According to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, perhaps better known to you savvy online denizens by its hip internet name “NEMS360,” the J.J. Rogers building, built in 1901 and originally known as Tupelo Cotton Mill #1, in Tupelo’s Mill Village Historic District, will be renovated for loft apartments:
A $9.4 million proposal to convert the vacant J.J. Rogers Building into 48 affordable loft-style apartments has received a long-awaited reservation of housing tax credits.
. . . .
“This should be a great fit for the neighborhood and a catalyst for future revitalization,” said project developer Rex Todd, who heads the North Carolina-based Todd Development. “The property will be rehabilitated according to the secretary of the Interior’s Standards for historic preservation.”
Construction is slated to begin by May and take about one year. Todd said it must be complete no later than September 2011. Martin Riley Associates of Decatur, Ga., designed the project, and Rehab Builders of North Carolina will be the general contractor.
The J.J. Rogers building is located in historic Mill Village, whose residents have waged a campaign to revitalize the formerly neglected neighborhood. Many have eagerly anticipated the lofts project in hopes it will further their efforts.
“We really feel like this is the major stepping stone to a tremendously bright future for Mill Village,” said Mill Village Neighborhood Association President Jane Carruth. “It is just going to be the biggest plus, not just for Mill Village but for Tupelo. We’re going to be preserving history.”
The building is owned by Britt and Jameson Rogers, who operated J.J. Rogers & Sons wholesalers there from the 1940s until last year. Todd said he expects to close on the property by December.
Sept. 16, 2009: An obituary in the Clarion-Ledger for Charles R. Smith, an architect who worked in the office of N.W. Overstreet & Associates and its successor firms for 20 years until Overstreet’s retirement. I’m sorry to say I don’t know much more than the obituary gives us–these are the kinds of obituaries that make me wish I had more time for oral histories because this generation has such information, and they are leaving us every day.
Mr. Smith was born in Jackson and attended high school in Greenville, Mississippi. In 1947, he began his life’s work in architecture at the firm of N.W. Overstreet, FAI in Jackson. His work was interrupted by the Korean War, and Mr. Smith served in the Navy for two years during the conflict on a destroyer, eventually sailing around the world. While home on leave, he met the love of his life Fabia at First Baptist Church in Jackson. They were married in 1953, a bond that would last 56 years.
After the war, he returned to work at N.W. Overstreet and became a registered architect in 1962. He worked on many prominent buildings in Jackson, including the renovation of the Old Capitol. In 1967 he joined the Mississippi State Building Commission as an architect, and became acting Director after a ten year period. While there, he helped manage the development and construction of the Walter Sillers State Office Building and the Carroll Gartin Department of Justice Building
Sept. 20, 2009: The Vicksburg Post has a good long update on the Levee Street Depot, which has been in limbo since the change of administrations earlier in the summer. As you may recall from previous news roundups, three agencies were slated to occupy the building: Main Street, the Vicksburg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce, and the funding from each would be used to match the grant from the Mississippi Dept. of Transportation. A transportation museum is also planned for the first floor. However, according to the Post “Levee Street Depot: Tourism plan to move ahead without Chamber,” the current plan involves only Main Street and the CVB moving in, leaving the third floor only for storage instead of Chamber offices. There’s lots of information about the financial reasoning in the article, which I hope you’ll read and understand better than I do. To paraphrase Dr. McCoy, “I’m a preservationist, not an accountant” and while you may not be glad I’m a preservationist, you should all be glad I’m not an accountant.
Sept. 22, 2009: Hattiesburg American reminds us that the Beverly Drive-In Theater is “Looking for the right buyer,” and the asking price for the property is a little over $1 million. As some of the comments have noted, that seems a pretty steep price, especially when the main building needs quite a bit of repair. One of the most intractable problems in preservation is when owners put a property on the market but at a price that is way above what the property can return on the investment. Then you have properties like Arlington in Natchez, where the owner doesn’t even try to pretend he’s willing to sell and would seemingly rather let the house fall in than sell it.
In National Register news . . . . the Mississippi Professional Historic Preservation Review Board–which really should change its name to the Mississippi National Register Review Board because that’s what it does–met last week and approved four National Register nominations:
- Vaiden High School, Vaiden
- Wiener House, 228 Ridge Drive, Jackson
- Alexander Teen Center, Brookhaven
- Glenwood-Vicklan Historic District, Vicksburg
These four nominations will now be sent to the National Park Service in Washington DC. The NPS has 45 days either to give its stamp of final approval, or to send it back without approval. The Wiener House, a truly wonderful and rare International style house designed by Shreveport architects William and Samuel Wiener in Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood, will be on the Saturday bus tour of the upcoming SESAH annual meeting in Jackson.