I was traveling most of this last week, but thanks to the internet was able to keep tabs on preservation news.
Believe it or not, December is approaching and so are holiday events in and around historic districts and buildings around the state. I’m sure that Malvaney will put these (and any other events) upon the MissPres calendar to help us all keep track of them.
A story that I saw a couple of weeks ago, but saved for this week’s Roundup ran in the Natchez Democrat and briefly described three different tours visitors can take of the holiday decorations around the city. One of the tours goes past Longwood, Melrose, Monmouth, and Linden, but all three tours include refurbished International Paper decorations along the bluff and as part of decorations around downtown houses as well. This week, another article about the calendar of holiday events in Natchez provides anyone interested in visiting everything they need to know.
Those articles do not mention any events at Historic Jefferson College, but those can be found on the Mississippi Department of Archives & History calendar along with events at other MDAH locations. One popular annual event for those in (or visiting) Jackson this week is “Old Jackson Christmas by Candlelight” on Friday, December 3 from 4:30 – 8:30 pm. I did the tour last year – and recommend it to others.
One more event is up in Hernando. The Desoto Times Tribune reports that the city will “introduce its new Historic District walking tour route with a guided tour on Sunday, Dec. 19 from 2 until 4 p.m.” This past year, the city produced new brochures for their historic district with the help of a grant from MDAH. One of the things I found most interesting was that the city is including this walking tour as its first “Let’s Move Cities and Towns” event. This program is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood obesity campaign. I love that the officials in Hernando thought of tying a historic preservation walking tour into this. Here’s hoping that they not only get their citizens moving but educate them about historic preservation!
I caught a glimpse of a story out of Oxford this week that the City is starting a tax break program in its Downtown Historic District. I’ve not seen more than that since the local paper requires a pay subscription to access it online. If anyone was able to read the actual paper this week and can share details, please do so.
Good news to announce from around the state this week:
Both the Sun Herald and Enterprise-Journal ran stories on the Westbrook Cotton Gin in Liberty. The building was the site where voting rights activist Herbert Lee was shot and killed on Sept. 25, 1961. This past Saturday, a marker about Lee’s efforts for Civil Rights – actions that led to his murder – was unveiled. The idea to have a marker came from the state Review Board when they evaluated the National Register nomination for the Gin itself. When the Sun Herald article ran, there was no word yet on whether the Keeper of the National Register accepted the state’s recommendation that the gin be listed, but according to the Enterprise-Journal, it has been accepted and listed. Besides the history honored by the listing and the marker, it sounds like there’s good food to be had at the restaurant that now occupies the building.
The Tishomingo County Historical & Genealogical Society has won 45 hours of marketing and communications expertise from Walker & Associates. TCHGS plans to use their award to design a logo, signage, and a brochure to put in state Welcome Centers.
A story in the Hattiesburg American this week announced an award from the Society of Architectural Historians, Southeast Chapter (SESAH) honoring the restoration and adaptive reuse of the East 6th Street USO Club – now an African-American Military History Museum. I had actually heard about this back in October – which is when the award was given – and thought there had been a link posted somewhere on MissPres to a release or story already done, but I couldn’t find it. The story may be late in running, but I’m in a “Better late than never” mode so I’m just glad that the paper announced it.
Back to the Sun Herald again, where they ran a story about the possible expansion of the Vicksburg National Military Park to include the Port Gibson, Raymond and Champion Hill battlefields. This expansion proposal comes from Mississippi Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker as Civil War sites around the nation are gearing up for the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War in 2011. Vicksburg is also already looking ahead to 2013 for the 150th anniversary of the campaign. Most people think of the siege of the city when they think of the Vicksburg Campaign, but area battles – such as Port Gibson, Raymond and Champions Hill – were also an important part of the campaign. According to the story:
“The proposed sites would encompass several historic homes, including the Shaifer House at Port Gibson and the Coker House at Champion Hill, now owned by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
If the legislation passes, Madell said plans are for the National Park Service to handle maintenance and security of those homes.”
Sen. Cochran wants the legislation to be voted on by the current lame duck congress.
Finally, more news on St. Paul’s Catholic Church. I hinted last week that the next step in attempting to save the building from demolition would be the courts. The Sun Herald and the Hattiesburg American both ran stories this week that said a group called “Save St. Paul’s” is suing to stop the demolition. They’re claiming that the Pass Christian Board of Aldermen violated the open meeting policy by discussing the case in Executive Session before announcing their decision to overturn the Preservation Commission’s denial of the demolition permit. There is no court date yet, but obviously, this is a story that will continue for a while. All the stories I read are pretty much the same but the three days it ran in the Sun Herald are here, here and here. It only ran for one day in the Hattiesburg paper.
Categories: African American History, Churches, Civil Rights, Civil War, Cool Old Places, Gulf Coast, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Historic Preservation, Industrial, Jackson, Liberty, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, National Register, News Roundups, Oxford, Pass Christian, Port Gibson, Preservation People/Events, Raymond, Vicksburg
I read the Eagle story (which is pretty confusing). There’s apparently a state law that allows property tax abatement where the owner of a historic property spends 15% of its value on a renovation. Grady Tollison and his son Gray own the Thompson building at the corner of North Lamar on the Square, and did an extensive renovation (prompted when the foundation of the back part of their building was undermined, requiring about half the part not on the Square to be entirely torn down); what they did was apply to the city to allow the tax abatement for up to 7 years allowed by state law. They are apparently going to get a tax reduction totaling $20,589 over four years. They had to get the Historic Preservation Commission to sign off it, and get approval from the mayor and board and a certification of the assessed value from the county tax assessor.