No big intro this week – let’s jump right into the news:
The weekly papers covering Waynesboro and Water Valley have recently published stories about how each community is looking at establishing National Register Districts. The meetings local officials have had in recent weeks with MDAH staff have been to talk about the National Register process and what designation does and does not mean for property owners. Best I can tell from the articles, neither have submitted district nominations yet, so we’ll have to watch for news that these potential districts have made it through the process.
Biloxi is abuzz with the opening of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. The Sun-Herald ran stories on the new building the past two Saturdays (Oct 30 and Nov 6). Usually, when we look at “new” development on MissPres, it is to look at how the design incorporates an historic structure. In this case, however, Frank Gehry is the building’s architect – which is a big deal for Mississippi. Biloxi is hoping that the Gehry design will draw visitors to the city. Since many of these visitors will have an interest in architecture, is sounds like a good catalyst for more preservation efforts in the coastal cities.
The Meridian Star provides us with two preservation stories this week:
First, the city has accepted a grant to fund a study of the Threefoot Building. According to the story, it sounds like the study on the Threefoot will be a phase of a larger study looking at all of downtown Meridian to be done by Watkins Development.
Watkins Development will, “develop a long range strategic vision for the development of the City of Meridian, with particular emphasis on the redevelopment and revitalization of the downtown area.”
Part of Watkins Development’s job will be to create a “Vision” for the development of the city over the next 10 years. In creating the vision, Watkins Development will look for ways that other governmental agencies and the private sector might be willing to join in the development of Meridian.
In another story, the Star reports that the City has applied for a $150,000 grant from MDAH to have a seismic study done on the Threefoot.
The second story out of Meridian was an update on the ongoing renovations to City Hall. At this week’s council meeting, Meridian Finance and Records Director Ed Skipper told city officials that all of the work might not be completed by the February 28th deadline. Skipper specifically referred to the decorative plasterwork on the building as the part of the project that is most likely to be delayed. They have had to change subcontractors for this part of the project because the original had some problems meeting specifications.
The project started in 2006 and was originally supposed to be completed in 2008, but the article says that “extent of renovations needed to stay in compliance with Mississippi Department of Archives and History regulations being more than [the city] expected.”
For previous coverage of the Meridian City Hall here on MissPres see:
The Natchez Democrat this week ran a story about the work being done by the National Park Service at Melrose. Instead of discussing the roof and other exterior work being done on the house, this article focuses on work being done on the grounds. Workers are relocating the property’s azaleas in order to make way for the recreation of the original fence.
From the Clarion Ledger this week, an update on the work being done around Farish Street. This latest report indicated that developers hope to have the first block of the Entertainment District open in February, and having 10 -12 businesses in the historic area open by the summer. Hopefully, the continued development in the area will result in adaptive reuse of historic buildings and not demolitions – only time will tell.
Here’s a follow-up from last week’s roundup. The Hattiesburg American ran a story about the impact of the loss of a landmark like the Beverly Drive-In. The piece was written by David Preziosi of the Mississippi Heritage Trust, and as we would expect from the non-profit, the article talks about the importance of historic buildings in our communities. I hate losing buildings – especially landmarks like the Beverly that could have been saved – but sometimes their loss gets more people paying interested in preservation. As widespread as the Beverly fire story was around the state, it may be a good rallying point for more grassroots efforts. Only time will tell.
Kosciusko’s courthouse project is close to complete, but won’t be done before the December 1 grant deadline, according to the Star-Herald. Funded by a grant from MDAH, the project includes a major electrical upgrade.
Hopefully some good news out of Holly Springs, where the South Reporter reports that “Efforts continue to save historic Chalmers Institute“:
Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs Inc. recently conducted a much-needed clearing of the property around historic Chalmers Institute, the first university to be chartered by Mississippi state legislators in 1837.
Members of the non-profit historic preservation group and other volunteers participated. Workers were able to clear the grounds and remove a large fallen tree branch, which had destroyed the project sign and damaged the surrounding fence. Fitch Farms donated its crew for this formidable task, while other volunteers worked to provide measures to protect the building and its interior from continued exposure to the elements.
Windows have been boarded and the property secured, and PMCHS is trying to work with the City to direct the $90,000 appropriated by the Legislature in 2006 toward repairs and rehab work.
Finally, with most elections around the nation decided, the National Trust blog posted this week about the implications of the mid-terms on Historic Preservation. I know that Malvaney occasionally does a “Blog Roundup” for us, but I’m hoping that I’ll be forgiven for including a blog link in the News Roundup this week since it will be important for MissPresers to keep an eye on how preservation fairs with the new Congress.
Categories: Biloxi, Gulf Coast, Hattiesburg, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Mississippi Heritage Trust, Modernism, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Museums, Natchez, National Park Service, National Register, News Roundups, Water Valley