I can’t find anything about this on the Meridian Star site (I don’t think they put all their articles online though), but I’ve heard from a couple of sources that after what appears to me to be a study with a pre-ordained conclusion, the proposed Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center project will include the demolition of the Meridian Hotel building, the five-story structure that rises just adjacent to the bridge going over the railroad into downtown.
The first I remember hearing about this proposed project was back in July 2010, and here’s what I had to say then:
And a rare article out of Meridian–am I wrong but do we hardly ever hear anything from that part of the state except about the Threefoot Building?–about the downtown site chosen for a new museum, the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center. According to the article in the Meridian Star:
Museum board members say an architect will decide whether to renovate the current buildings on the property or demolish them and construct a new building.
The buildings in question–one of which is the old Meridian Hotel–are right in the heart of the downtown historic district and are very prominent as you cross the bridge into downtown, so let’s hope they will be renovated instead of demolished. I wish the board members would be more cognizant of the property they have acquired and not be throwing around demolition options from the start. When I first moved to Mississippi, many moons ago, Meridian had one of the most intact turn-of-the-20th-century urban environments in the state, older than Jackson’s downtown. Now, after years of losing one building here, one building there, two buildings over here, it is diminished considerably–still impressive, but disheartening to those of us who knew it before.
Built around 1910, and probably one of the earliest “skyscrapers” in Meridian, the hotel is listed on the National Register and is part of Meridian’s local historic district. My sources also tell me that the Meridian Historic Preservation Commission has possibly already given a demolition permit on this project, which, if true, is pretty astonishing. If the preservation commission isn’t protecting the historic districts, who is?
Anyone have any further information about this project? I would love to find out that I’m wrong here. The hotel looks to me like a mini-King Edward Hotel, and actually from the exterior seems in better shape than the KE was when it was fixed up a few years ago. Why can’t Meridian take a cue from that project and see the potential in this building?