MissPres News Roundup 8-13-2010

Long ago in the Year of our Lord 2007, the first two weeks of August, expected to be hot and steamy and muggy and generally uncomfortable, instead became cool, with lows even into the 50s at night, gloriously cool nights that brought out a light blanket, and dry warm days that made you want to skip work to lay on your back in the grass and look at the crystal clear blue sky and hum a tune. That was a heavenly August.

In this less-than-heavenly August of heat so hot it takes your breath away, when walking outside drains your energy–much less laying in the shriveled grass–and you find yourself withered and snappish, just remember that there was once a better time and maybe there will be again.

This has been a public service announcement and is my way of trying to make the world that is Mississippi less snappish, at least for a few days.

It’s hard to believe that anything is going on out there, but a few things have happened round our oppressively hot state these past couple of weeks.

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The MDAH site announces four new listings on the National Register:

  • Greyhound Lines Station, Greenwood: With its horizontal lines and curved edges, the circa-1939 station is a rare example of Streamline Moderne architecture in the area.
  • George Street Grocery, Jackson: In addition to its commercial importance in its neighborhood, George Street Grocery came to be closely associated with the writer Eudora Welty who shopped at the store as a child. Welty’s memories of the grocery served as inspiration for her 1975 essay “The Corner Store.”
  • George Washington Brett House, Attala County: An early settler in the area, Brett began constructing the two-story gable roof frame house around 1860. A kitchen and dining were added in 1883, and in 1998 the current owners added a log cabin constructed circa-1834.
  • Old Bay St. Louis Historic District, Bay St. Louis: A wide variety of architectural styles from Queen Anne to Creole cottages to Craftsman bungalows populate the Old Bay St. Louis Historic District, located in Hancock County. The district survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and is one of the few intact examples of a small Mississippi coastal community.

What a great variety in this short list–congratulations to all!

The King Edward made the national press again, this time in the Journal of Tax Credits (whoo, bet that one’s full of excitement!). Check out their take on this most significant historic renovation in Mississippi’s recent history, which includes detailed but accessible discussion of the financing involved. Or if you don’t have time to read actual print, you can watch their slide show.

Two archaeology digs on the Coast have received attention, both on the gulflive.com site that I think combines the content of the Mississippi Press with the Mobile Press-Register:

Can you dig it?–Team excavates Old Spanish Fort site, public invited

While excavating a pit under a shade tree east of the Old Spanish Fort — now known as the La Pointe-Krebs House — a group from the University of South Alabama’s Center for Archeological Studies has just discovered the intact base of a clay pot about a foot into the rich, dark earth.

and

Dig seeks information on ancient Gautier residents

Anthropology students from the University of Alabama have been digging into a mound built by native americans about 1,500 years ago since May 30. The 6-foot high mound is tucked away in a wooded lot in a south Gautier neighborhood near the Mississippi Sound.

And another piece from gulflive.com, “Restoring the light: Round Island Lighthouse moved to mainland.” The Round Island Lighthouse, once a sturdy brick structure out on Round Island off of Pascagoula, suffered a bad wound after Hurricane Georges, when the end of the island on which it stood simply eroded out from under it. The lighthouse was left partially toppled and all askew. Rescue efforts focused on retrieving as many of the bricks that had fallen into the water as possible, creating a breakwater around the remaining section, and rebuilding the foundations. This work had been completed when Katrina hit, and as I recall fundraising was underway to actually rebuild the top section that had fallen. Katrina, of course, washed all that away, leaving an even shorter section, really just the very bottom part of the lighthouse remaining. You can see a picture of the remaining piece in the gulflive article, where it has been placed on a barge and is being moved onto dry land near downtown Pascagoula.

I’m not sure how I feel about this project. On the one hand, I applaud people who love their own history enough to fight to save it, especially given the vicissitudes endured by the historic places and the people on the Coast . On the other hand, that little section doesn’t look like much is left of the lighthouse, and moving it away from Round Island means it’s no longer the Round Island Lighthouse. Feel free to disagree but please don’t throw things at me.

Something fun for all photographers out there, especially those who use Flickr. The National Park Service is again holding its NHL Photo Contest. The rules are simple and identical to last year’s: take very cool pictures of NHLs, add them to the NHL pool on Flickr by September 10,  2010. One image per NHL, but up to 10 images per photographer, so you can flood the pool if you want to. Not sure what’s an NHL in Mississippi? Ol’ Malvaney is way ahead of you, check out my handy list.

And finally, I’ll bet you wouldn’t have guessed that a cool hipster like me belonged to the Victorian Society in America, but I’m not ashamed to say I do. Yesterday I got an announcement that the VSA will be doing a study tour of “New Orleans and Beyond” October 21-24. I’ve taken both the VSA’s Summer Schools (London and Newport, RI) and I can highly recommend them. These aren’t little sissy tours where you might see a couple of buildings a day and then knock off, they are very serious and sometimes exhaustingly in-depth studies of both the architecture and the decorative arts of the Victorian period, (which in their way of parsing it extends from 1840 through the beginning of WWI). Their tours take you to famous public sites, but also to private homes and collections you would never get to see on your own. If such a tour of New Orleans and environs sounds interesting to you–I’m considering it myself–check out the VSA website. Maybe we’ll see each other there!



Categories: Bay St. Louis, Greenwood, Jackson, National Register, News Roundups, Pascagoula, Renovation Projects

3 replies

  1. I am in full agreement with your comment regarding salvaging the surviving fragment of the Round Island Lighthouse. Historical artifacts (which include buildings and remnants of buildings) are not intrinsically significant. Significance should be related to their potential for beneficial impact on the lived environment and therefore to the common good. Investing enormous amounts of time and money in this project does little more than treat the stump of the lighthouse as a sacred relic–which it isn’t. Such things only happen in a social and political environment where vast sums of money are regularly doled out to those who best know how to manipulate the system.

    Jack

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    • I have to agree with Jack. Arguments for relocating and reconstructing historic structures are rarely convincing, even when, as in this instance, there is no other preservation strategy. The idea of relocating a lighthouse, whose existence arises absolutely from its location, is absurd.

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  2. Regarding NHL’s in Mississippi, y’all are all invited down to Natchez next week for our first (possibly biennial) preservation conference targeting NHL stewards in MS and LA (Monday evening 8/23 through Wednesday 8/25). Email me if you’re interested, and I’ll send you an agenda.

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