While MissPres was on vacation last week, I had more time to cruise around the vast wide world of the internet (always living out there on the edge). A post called “Donation of Historic Paint Colors Makes for a ‘Good Neighbor’ on the Gulf Coast,” written by former MHT president Lolly Barnes on the National Trust’s blog, caught my eye. Here’s a little snippet, and I hope you’ll read the whole thing over at PreservationNation:
The Mississippi Heritage Trust’s “Good Neighbor” house painting program, aimed at helping homeowners complete the restoration of historic buildings that had been damaged in Hurricane Katrina, kicked off in March 2009 with the influx of hundreds of volunteers for Alternative Spring Break.
As many of you know, Mississippi’s preservation community has been working hard since Katrina to encourage homeowners and property owners to restore their historic buildings rather than take FEMA’s free demolition money(see Hurricane Katrina/Gulf Coast Recovery). This effort began with months of volunteer teams of architects and engineers who gave on-the-spot advice to overwhelmed owners about concrete measures they could take to stabilize and eventually repair their buildings.
Since Aug 2006, the Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History has been administering a $26 million grant for historic properties (although you would hardly know it from the MDAH website), and this program has helped around 300 owners repair their historic places. But this grant money, tied up with various federal and state financial rules, has not been able to take that one last step to finish buildings completely, the one step that most people notice at first glance–painting the house. Many owners are able to complete that step on their own, but others due to health or age aren’t, and that’s where MHT’s volunteer effort steps in.
MHT’s Coast contingent has done a good job in seeing an area where a relatively small amount of money and lots of volunteer elbow grease can go a long way. And it’s nice to see the Mississippi Coast mentioned on the National Trust blog, so that the rest of the world can remember that Katrina was about more than New Orleans.