MissPres News Roundup 3-19-2010

My apologies for not producing my usual in-depth News Roundup for this week; the normal News Roundup will return next week. Of course, I am on vacation and used some of my vacation time to create last week’s News Roundup, starting a long discussion which brought all the Oxonians out of the woodwork like so many termites (please write all your angry replies to this MSU student’s sarcastic statement in the comment box below). And here is the news.

The Vicksburg Post was a wealth of preservation-related news this week. The continuing saga of Ceres Plantation is playing out. According to the Post’s March 16 article, the Warren County Port Commission has tabled competing offers to demolish Ceres. The article mentions the proposal to preserve the plantation in situ and the fact that proposal had been dismissed. The Post reports that an offer has been made to purchase and relocate the house, to become the centerpiece of a new residential development. This plan, according to another source, would move Ceres to Madison County. From a preservation standpoint, this is the equivalent of a legislative compromise. Such an acclaimed wordsmith as Sir Mick Jagger stated succinctly, “You can’t always get what you want…”

The March 11 edition of The Vicksburg Post contained two stories of interest to MissPres readers. The first article on March 11 pertains to stimulus money and preservation. $1.7 million in stimulus funds are earmarked toward restoring the interior of the Shirley House, the only surviving antebellum structure in the Vicksburg National Military Park. While officials at the Military Park requested more funds, the funds received should allow them to perform a large amount of restoration.

Wexford Lodge (Shirley House), Vicksburg National Military Park, photograph taken in 1868, courtesy of Historic American Building Survey (HABS)

$400,000 has been granted to Alcorn State University to restore Belles Lettres Hall, a designated Mississippi Landmark. This has already been reported in The Vicksburg Post and here at Preservation in Mississippi in October but it is good to refresh our memories about such projects.

The second article on March 11 states that the annual structural report on the U.S. 80 Bridge in Vicksburg has cleared the bridge for further service. Bridges are an important, if often ignored component of preservation. After eight decades of use, the fact that this bridge is structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing should encourage its preservation. Deferred maintenance is the enemy of bridges, in many cases; the money is not spent to maintain bridges. Then, the bridge becomes structurally deficient and must be replaced, at the cost of millions, or tens of millions, of dollars. Money that could have been saved by proper maintenance.

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Categories: African American History, Bridges, Civil War, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, National Park Service, News Roundups, Universities/Colleges, Vicksburg

7 replies

  1. Engineers employed by the county sometimes just pock the $ and duplicate the prior report without ever inspecting the bridge. Down the road its picked up because the decay is noticed by citizens…boards of supervisors delay fixing it and bridges wind up having to be replaced at greater cost. It doesn’t happen a lot in Mississippi. ;#|^+ but nationally it becomes a problem…until you have stimulus money.
    Heavenly speaking the star Ceres has moved into Capricorn so that might benefit the antebellum mansion by that name.
    My math on the ‘ first preservation campaign’ was waaay off…thats why I worked as a librarian so I could escape calculations and hopefully correct folks facts. :))

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  2. Another story from this week is in the Sun Herald regarding historic Markham Hotel in Gulfport. http://www.sunherald.com/2010/03/16/2031075/clean-up-markham-or-it-could-be.html

    Tuesday, the city voted to “use a state law created for Gulfport that allows the city to expeditiously deal with unsightly property.”

    The city considers the building a potential health and safety hazard and the local Downtown Association and Main Street program president “said the Markham impedes revitalization and serves as a poster child for ugly buildings.”

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  3. Saving the Markham really needs to be a priority for both Gulfport and the state. Too many landmarks have already been lost to Katrina. There is no excuse for the demolition of the Markham. A multi-story community center? How about making it a hotel once again?

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  4. Oh brother, I seem to recall that same Gulfport Main Street also came out in favor of demolishing the Gulfport Library a couple of years ago too. Somebody needs to remind them that Main Street is a National Trust program to revitalize historic downtowns by preserving them not by tearing them down. If they want to be a chamber of commerce, then fine, but don’t take National Trust money and call yourself a Main Street to do it.

    As in most cases, it takes vision and imagination to move a building from underutilized and “ugly” (which I agree could be used to describe the Markham in its current state) to a community landmark and center of activity. I keep going back to the King Edward, which was in much worse shape than the Markham and doesn’t even have as great a view as the Markham. The people who should be putting forth that vision are the Main Street people, but something’s gotten turned around and instead their vision is lots of empty lots waiting for . . . .

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  5. Termites, huh. Termites!?

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