While we’ve been reading about Mound Bayou and playing our 8th Round of Name This Place, here’s what’s been going on in Preservation News around the state:
First, news from the Dispatch in Columbus where the local commission is looking to create a new local historic district in Southside. Everything in the article tells me that the discussions are just at the beginning stages of the process with the commission talking with homeowners and elected officials to educate them about the process and what an ordinance would mean. The proposed district boundaries would be College Street, Mississippi University for Women (the campus itself is not included in the local district), the railroad tracks and the river. According to the Dispatch, this area was list on the National Register in the early 1980s. While nothing was actually decided at the preservation commission’s meeting this week, the paper makes it sound like discussions will be on going. We’ll keep an eye on this one and let you know what happens.The Clarion Ledger ran a piece on Oxford‘s Rowen Oak a few days ago. It featured a panel discussion made up of past and current curators where they “swapped stories about much-needed renovation, visits by the famous and the unusual, as well as ghost stories.” This panel was part of the kickoff for the 38th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference. Although the article started with a sense that the property currently needs work done on it, the article did not address any current needs for the building. The last major renovations were done about 10 years ago when a “climate control system” was installed.
News from the Natchez area where the Democrat announced that Historic Jefferson College had an even this weekend to celebrate the completion of “a Rural Trails Project grant” that allowed the property to build “a new Pond Trail, benches, steps and walkways and installed 15 full-color informational signs along the trails.” Like most MissPresers, I know the buildings on the HJC property pretty well. What I learned from this article, however, is that the property includes “a 40-acre section of forested land behind the buildings” which “contains three trails, a small cemetery, four bridges, two creeks, deep ravines, old growth forest, five species of woodpeckers, a wide variety of fungi, most of Mississippi’s major mammal groups and plenty of other things to see, hear and smell.” The new trails and signs focus on bringing visitors toward this area. I think this sounds like something to explore next time I’m down in Adams County – but I think I’ll wait until the fall.An Associated Press story I saw in both the Dispatch and the Clarion Ledger said that MSU Architecture Professor David J. Perkes “who helped in the coastal rebuilding effort after Hurricane Katrina” was honored last week at the White House “as part of President Barack Obama’s Champions of Change initiative.” I wish the article talked more about Professor’s Perkes’ work – especially because I don’t know how it impacted historic structures – but it was nice to see a Mississippian honored.
Down on the coast, a Sun Herald headline read “Throngs turn out for Biloxi’s day of dedications.” These ceremonies were for the Lighthouse Visitors Center, civic center and library. The Visitors Center is designed to resemble the Dantzler House – which had stood on the site prior to Katrina. It’s sad that they lost the building, but I’m glad they thought about what had been there when planning the new center. Finishing touches are still needed on all three buildings that were dedicated this week and it doesn’t seem like any of them are fully open. Maybe some of our Coastal MissPresers can share some impressions of these buildings for us.
The Hattiesburg American reported that officials in Lamar County are looking at plans for a $4 million restoration project for the courthouse in Purvis. “The restoration will open up the interior while shoring up the exterior, bringing back the best of the past – like the second-floor balcony – while bringing the courthouse up to date.” From the article (which you’ll have to read to believe) it sounds like this courthouse is in really bad shape – but I’m impressed that the County wants to repair it instead of demolishing it to make way for a brand new building.
Finally, one more story from the American, but this time talking about USM Gulf Park‘s preparations for several building projects – including work on some of the historic buildings on campus. USM Vice President Frances Lucas, when asked about why it had taken so long to get these projects going, pointed fingers at both FEMA and MDAH as the reasons for the delay – comparing getting through the “red tape” processes for both government groups to “a herd of turtles”. Her blame on MDAH went further than just delays to blame them for why repairs to Hardy Hall would be more expensive because custom windows will have to be made to replicate the originals. She also says something about how repairing the facade is complex because of moving stairwells and floor heights, which seemed odd to me. We’ll have to keep watching this project to see what happens.