MissPres News Roundup 11-22-2010

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone!  Even though we skipped a week for the News Round-Up so Malvaney could catch us up on the blogging world, I’ve been keeping up with the news from around the state.  As you’ll see, the Coast was apparently the place to be for preservation news the past couple of weeks.

And away we go:

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Earlier this month in Natchez, a museum opened in the building that is on the site where the Rhythm Night Club once stood.  The club was the site of a tragic fire in 1940 that claimed over 200 lives.  The community has commemorated the event with an annual ceremony and the site has a historical marker, and a local couple has been working on gathering items, clippings, and memorabilia from survivors and families of survivors.  In the aftermath of that event, building fire codes across the nation were changed.

Beverly Drive-In, as it appeared in 2008

Continuing on the “fire” theme are a couple more aftermath stories about the Beverly Drive-In.  First, a story reports that Federal and State investigators have been brought in to help the locals determine the cause of the fire that destroyed the theater at the end of October.   Both the monetary value of the property and its historical significance were cited as reasons for bringing in the additional help.

While we do not know the cause yet of the Beverly fire, there have been a couple of projects done by citizens who loved the building and wanted to commemorate it in some way.  The Hattiesburg American highlighted some projects in an article last week, including a digital 3D Model which will be incorporated into Google Earth.  The Beverly was also included in an upcoming documentary film “Going Attractions” about the rise and fall of drive-in theaters.

For background on the Beverly fire see News Round-Ups from 11-1-2010 and 11-8-2010.

I came across two stories about communities finding ways to honor Mississippi veterans.

One was a story from the Coast where 200 people attended the unveiling of a historic marker for a soldier who fought in the American Revolution.

The other story was from Natchez, where just under 600 names of African-American World War I veterans will be added to the plaque on the Federal Courthouse.  Researchers not only found the African-Americans who were left off (the plaques were originally done in the age of Jim Crowe), but also about 100 White veterans as well.

A story from the Columbia Dispatch touts the economic benefits of Main Street programs across the nation.  I wish the article had more stats because one reason why Main Street programs are successful is that it is tied to historic preservation.  Even without statistics, I think this is a good article to “clip” and copy for political and community leaders as a good intro to how the ideas of the Main Street program help a community.

Two weeks ago, the Town of Carrollton welcomed visitors to Cotesworth for a reception and fundraiser to go towards the preservation of the property.  According to the Clarion Ledger, the project has benefited from the filming of The Help and now a community organization is looking at acquiring the property and developing a long-term, sustainable preservation plan.  I admit that I don’t know much about the property – only what I read in the paper about it being the former home of 19th-century political leader J.Z. George and, basically, an important stop for travelers.  I hope we keep hearing good things about this project for Carrollton and that when I get to visit the house I can report good things about its progress.

Charnley House, Ocean Springs

A plan is the works to restore the Charnley House in Ocean Springs.  According to the Clarion-Ledger story, the Department of Marine Resources and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History are the major players in the plan.  The 1890s cottage has some ties to Frank Lloyd Wright – who worked on residential designs for Adler and Sullivan early in his career.  The plan is in the early works and the building, while stable, is essentially a shell due to Katrina damage so the renovations will take a while (for back-story on this property, see last year’s “Katrina Survivors: Charnley House.” We’ll continue to watch to see how this significant property progresses.

Good news out of Bay St Louis where the post-Katrina renovations on the 1905 City Hall building are entering the final project stages.  According to the WLOX story, the project will be finished by the end of the year, and the building will be ready for use after the first of the year.  The building will be home to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission – who will hold their meetings there and will be in charge of a small city museum.

St. Paul's Catholic Church (1970), photo Sept 2005, courtesy MDAH

Finally, the past couple of weeks have been busy for the citizens of Pass Christian interested in the fate of St. Paul’s Catholic Church.  The Catholic Diocese of Biloxi sought a permit to demolish the building, which was damaged due to Katrina.  St. Paul’s is in a locally designated district, so the demolition request had to go through the local Historic Preservation Commission who denied the permit.  MissPres shared this news in Round-Up on 8-20-2010 and 9-20-2010.  In the September edition, Malvaney noted that the Commission’s decision could be appealed within 30 days to the Board of Aldermen.  The appeal was on the Board’s agenda two weeks ago.  After an hour of hearing both sides for an hour, the Aldermen took forty minutes in Executive Session before voting 4 – 0 (with one abstention) to overturn the HPC’s decision.

Stories on the Board’s meeting can be found in several locations, including WLOX before and after the meeting.

For those that thought the Board’s decision would seal the fate of St. Paul’s, the Mayor promptly vetoed the Aldermen’s vote, as reported by the Sun Herald.

But almost as promptly, the Board successfully overturned the Mayor’s veto last week, which appeared in the Sun Herald in two different stories here and here.

In order to save the church now, the case would have to go to the courts.  If it does, I’m sure WLOX and the Sun Herald will report it and we’ll pass it along in a future News Round-Up.



Categories: Bay St. Louis, Carrollton, Churches, Columbia, Gulf Coast, Historic Preservation, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, News Roundups, Pass Christian, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Recent Past

3 replies

  1. George Hall on the MSU campus (The former Infirmary that I wrote about in May or June) is named for J. Z. George. He was known as “The Great Commoner.”

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  2. There are several schools around the state named for him as well. He was clearly admired long after his death. He’s also one of two Mississippians honored with a statue in the Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Cotesworth is an amazing place, especially the hexagonal library building that George built for himself in 1887. This one definitely goes on the Top 101 List.

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  1. MissPres News Roundup 11-29-2010 | Preservation in Mississippi

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