After getting a little experience with the News Roundup a few weeks ago, JRGordon has decided to take it on as a regular contributor. JR has been around the MissPres universe for at least a year now, by my reckoning, and keeps fingers in preservation events and goings-on all around the state.
As a side note, for those in the Jackson area, remember that author Mary Carol Miller will be signing copies of her recent book Lost Mansions of Mississippi II, at Lemuria Books in Jackson, beginning at 5 PM.
I’m taking over the reins again on the News Roundup this week. Most of the stories I saw this week about Mississippi’s historic structures were shorts on different “Haunted History” events for Halloween, so this week’s Roundup will be a little shorter.
Unfortunately, I have to start with bad news. The Hattiesburg American reported both Friday and Saturday that the Beverly Drive-In was destroyed by a fire, and the Clarion Ledger ran the story on Sunday. Those of you who have been around MissPres for a little while know that we’ve talked about it before – including some comments expressing an interest in the property. Both papers include a photo of the building while it was burning – which is a devastating site for all those who hoped to hear that the drive-in would be up and running again. No cause has been reported yet.
Better news from Brandon this week as the Clarion Ledger reported that a new retaining wall was completed near the Rankin County Courthouse. According to the article:
Officials worried the crumbling bank would damage the integrity of the two-story brick building that houses the Justice Court and other county offices.
The new wall, built of large concrete blocks, is up to 30 feet tall in some areas. The large blocks snap together, much like building blocks . . .
Sounds like life-size Lego blocks – and I wish the article included pictures to see what they look like and how they do (or do not?) blend with the surrounding architecture. Anyone going by there soon and willing to get a picture for us?
In Corinth, the Board of Aldermen recently voted to reduce the size of the local historic district. For those of you familiar with Corinth’s geography, the area excluded will be south of the Norfolk Southern rail line to Tate (North / South) and the area between Taylor and Fillmore (East / West).
“This is the one area of the district that has not seen any benefit of the ordinance, and it’s time to try something else,” said Building Inspector Philip Verdung.
It is hoped that removing this area from the district will encourage cleanup of declining properties and ease the process of redevelopment. The area is in the southern portion of the central business district and will be subject to the new building requirements.
I think that looking at the zoning would have more of an impact on the area’s potential for redevelopment than taking it out of the preservation district.
The article does note that the changes to the district boundary would not go into effect until the city receives comments on the new boundary from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, but I got the impression that the city only sought MDAH comment as a formality and would not change their mind if MDAH disagreed with the new boundary lines.
Difficulty in Bay St. Louis this week as an article reports the latest on an ongoing discussion about a proposed plan to create a “Walk of Fame” on the city’s sidewalks . I have not had luck digging up other articles on the topic, but I get the impression that this is similar to a “buy a brick” kind of fundraiser that places like museums and universities have used. However the program would work in Bay St. Louis, the funds raised would go towards the historic preservation efforts of the local commission. This week’s article does not sound like the program will get off the ground because of some questions about a city commission getting “exclusive rights” to city property (the sidewalks) for fund raising activities.
The Cleveland home of Amzie Moore that was once a center of Civil Rights activities in Mississippi was placed on the city’s “unsafe properties” list the local paper reported this week. It sounds like the property was at least stabilized and “moth-balled” for a while, but has been subject to vandalism this summer which has put it back in danger. I cannot tell from the article if Moore’s family or the city owns the property – which would play a role in what kind of funding might be found to shore the building back up and perhaps even restore and interpret it as a Civil Rights site.
The final story this week is from Starkville and is about MSU’s Cooley Building. Plans are in the works to turn the former cotton mill into a convention center as part of a major mixed use development project – which will be done by a private group who will have a long-term lease on the building and own the land near the building. The rendering of the proposed project that ran with the article should scare everyone who likes historic buildings – although I did hear that the Clarion Ledger ran an “old” rendering and that the current plan they are working with is more in line with preservation standards. We will have to wait and see.