MissPres News Roundup 10-2-2009

Fall is in the air, and today’s News Roundup Theme Song is “Time to Say Goodbye.”

I didn’t find much actual newspaper news this week, so our roundup will be a little more prosey.

There was a nice pro-preservation article in Wednesday’s Tupelo Daily Journal about Brad Prewitt’s restoration of the 1910 Robert Clark House. The Tupelo Preservation Commission had placed the house on its own 10 Most Endangered List. Really loved this quote from the contractor Lynn Bryan:

“The sad thing is, so many folks have torn down these houses, and they treat the National Historic Register as a hindrance to the bottom line,” Bryan said. “But Brad reaps 45 percent tax credits by doing it this way, and it’s not much harder.”

Amen, Brother! And congratulations to Brad Prewitt for stepping up to the place on this one.

From the Dept. of Interior website:

“The Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today (Sept 18) that 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will be the beneficiaries of $14.25 million for historic preservation grants aimed at providing assistance in the repair of historic buildings on their campuses.

Belles Lettres Hall (c.1855), Alcorn State University, photo 1974, courtesy of HABS

Belles Lettres Hall (c.1855), Alcorn State University, photo 1974, courtesy of HABS

Two Mississippi colleges received grants, Alcorn State University for the renovation of Belles Lettres Hall ($400,000) and Tougaloo College for the renovation of the Boddie Mansion, the original antebellum plantation house around which the college grew. The Boddie Mansion project received $829,007–make sure you get that extra $7, Tougaloo! The building, designed by architect Jacob Larmour just before the start of the Civil War, will no doubt require lots more than that–last time I saw it, a few months ago, it was missing large pieces of itself.

Boddie Mansion, Tougaloo College, photo c.1900, courtesy MDAH

Boddie Mansion, Tougaloo College, photo c.1900, courtesy MDAH

While I’m of course happy to see these two very deserving and needy landmarks receive funding, I’m disappointed to not see the Mississippi Industrial College buildings, now owned by Rust College, on the list. As you recall, it was reported earlier in the summer that Catherine Hall at MIC suffered a partial collapse during a storm, and no doubt the deterioration since then has been accelerating. Did Rust College not apply or did they apply and not get the grant? Very disappointing indeed and may sound the death knell for at least one and possibly more of the landmark buildings up in Holly Springs.

On another note:

I noticed this week that the old Museum of Natural History, down behind the Old Capitol and next door to the old Naval Reserve Center, is being torn down. I also noticed that it is/was a much sturdier building than I had ever realized–in fact the core of it at least is of concrete-frame construction. Now, ya’ll know I’m just a simple soul, so maybe there’s lots of logical thinking behind this decision, but . . . why does it makes sense to pay lots of money to tear down a tall 2-story concrete-frame structure, while at the same time, continue with plans to tear down a big chunk of the National Register-listed Naval Reserve Center next door in order to build an elevated steel structure for the MDAH Records Center (elevated because it’s in a flood plain because apparently there’s no other non-flood-prone property in Jackson?). If I were Ruler of the World, I would leave the Naval Reserve Center intact (and well, maybe nail back those hanging plywood pieces) and spend my money doing whatever renovation of the old museum space next door for the records center. Or, maybe I would just build the records center outside of a flood plain, eliminating the whole question of elevation.

demolition of the old Natural History Museum

demolition of the old Natural History Museum

Categories: Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Jackson, News Roundups, Tupelo, Universities/Colleges

6 replies

  1. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the Naval Reserve Records Center project is a no-go, but I don’t know how reliable that information is. I was told, however, that in a sort of domino effect many people came to their senses one after the other and told DFA no.


  2. And, blam!, down it (Natural History Museum) came on Friday afternoon, Oct. 2, 2009, around 4:00 pm.



  1. MissPres News Roundup 6-4-2010 | Preservation in Mississippi

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