MissPres News Roundup 3-14-2011

I plan on some quality time on my patio, reading and enjoying the Spring weather, so I’m jumping right into this week’s news:

For those of you keeping track of the calendar, you already know that Pilgrimage started this weekend in Natchez.  On Friday, the Democrat, ran a story about the “finishing touches” some of the houses had been undergoing the past couple of weeks to prepare for the Spring visitors.   Natchez Pilgrimage Tours executive director Marsha Colson told the paper that her organization was “feeling very good about Spring Pilgrimage this year.”  Colson also said, “Group numbers are way up from last year for the home tours and the Tableaux, but you never know about individuals. They just show up.”

One of the places getting more than “typical” finishing touches this year was Routhland.  In February, the dining room ceiling fell in, so the owners have been repairing the room to make it ready.  Friday’s article talked with the owners about their prep work this year.

The Democrat also ran a piece this weekend on Texada, one of the properties open for tours this first weekend, including snippets of the stories that tourists are likely to hear from the house’s history.  The bit about the elephant is entertaining.

Melrose

Also down in Natchez, the Democrat reported on the ongoing repairs on Melrose.  The current phase of the restoration is preparing for new paint.  The picture accompanying the article disturbs me as the worker looks to be cleaning paint of the columns with a pressure washer.  I assume this is part of the work, mentioned before here on MissPres,  that will restore the original paint and veining to the facade? But I thought you weren’t supposed to use a pressure washer on old brick?

Caught a story in the Clarion Ledger this week focusing on the circa 1850s Chapel of the Cross up in Madison.  As the story points out:

“The Chapel of the Cross is more than just a site on the National Register of Historic Places but a vibrant church with 700 members. It is a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi with Sunday morning and evening services and Morning Prayer Monday through Friday.”

And it’s not just the building itself that draws visitors – the grounds and historic cemetery are also popular.  The article makes me want to visit – which was likely the point of publishing it.

A report from the Sun Herald says that “The Mississippi Department of Archives & History is trying to help find a buyer who would save and restore a historic military building on William Carey University’s former campus” in Gulfport. The building in question is known as Fairchild Hall.  It is a two-story brick building, located near the front of the campus.  Constructed in the 1920s, the building features arched windows and, according to the article, is the only structure that remains from the days when the campus was the Gulf Coast Military Academy (early 1900s – 1951 according to the article). However, I’ve heard that the old chapel from the academy is still standing in a somewhat altered state on the grounds of the adjacent Armed Forces Retirement Home

Speaking of MDAH, they were praised in an editorial in the Hattiesburg American that I missed including in the last round-up.  The author attended the ribbon cutting for Elizabeth Cottage, the old president’s home on the campus of what was once Whitworth College and is now Mississippi School for the Arts in Brookhaven. Sharon Gerald, the author of the editorial, had lived in the house for about 10 years while her father worked at the school and is pleased to see the house being restored to life.

Finally, two quick items I came across:

This Old House put together a collection of “64 timeless neighborhoods in the U.S. and Canada where the historic homes have extraordinary pasts and unarguably promising futures.”  Nothing says how they made their selections, but they picked one in each state.  Mississippi’s representative on the list is Vicksburg.

MissPres has made an impression on one of the blogs of the Clarion Ledger.  Jere Nash linked to (and quoted) E.L. Malvaney’s post on the new federal building in Jackson referring to the post as a “long, very well written review of the building.”



Categories: Brookhaven, Cool Old Places, For Sale, Gulf Coast, Gulfport, Historic Preservation, Jackson, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, National Park Service, News Roundups, Vicksburg

3 replies

  1. Hoping to allay somewhat the concerns about the use of pressure washing as part of the ongoing preservation work at Melrose as shown in recent newspaper photographs … the washing technique being used is not taking place on the beautiful red brick walls themselves but on the natural cement stucco coating the brick columns, chimneys, water table, and walls under front porticos and back gallery that originally had faux painting and still retain some traces. Work is under the oversight of an architectural conservator – we are removing 100+ years of chalky white paint to document what remains of the original faux painting before attempting to recreate it (and cross our fingers that it will last a long, long time).

    This procedure is part of phase II that involves brushing on caustic product then rinsing after a peel-away product has already been used to removed the 1970s elastomeric paint and most layers of lead-based white beneath. We also worked with the paint removal experts at the NPS National Center for Preservation Technology & Training in Natchotiches, LA in developing the procedures. The washing technique has no apparent impact on the original layer of painting, and has exposed beautiful red veins in a number of places on a base coat of cream, tan, and rose blocks. It doesn’t match any pattern that has been found so far in period books – seems most like some sort of imitation sandstone. There are still several weeks of paint-removal work yet to go. Though the exterior faces of the columns are extremely weathered and show almost no remnants of the original treatment, there is still some hope that the most protected areas on the walls under the galleries may reveal areas with original pattern so intact that it can be left for interpretation without overpainting.

    Our expectation is to move forward with competition to select a decorative painter later this spring, with hoped-for completion of the project this fall.

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  2. Thanks for that explanation, Kathleen–you know how jumpy a pressure-washer (or sandblaster, etc.) makes us preservationists! I’m excited to see those red veins–what a different look that will be, almost like the Old Capitol getting re-stuccoed, it will take some getting used to.

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  3. I’ll echo Malvaney’s thanks for the explanation of that photo in the Democrat. The pressure-washing photo did make me panic a little as I was going through the stories this week.

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