MissPres News Roundup 8-30-2011

A lot of the news this past week focused on the East Coast and Hurricane Irene – which made me (and probably a lot of you as well) remember that the Katrina anniversary was yesterday; hence no post in memory of that important event in Mississippi preservation history.

Despite that, I still found plenty of Preservation News around the state to share:

Speaking of the Katrina anniversary, the Sun Herald ran a feature on MDAH’s efforts to save and restore historic buildings damaged during the storm.  The paper selected 10 projects – ranging in award amount from $90,000 to almost $600,000 – to highlight the work the MDAH Gulf Coast office has been doing for the past six years.  For each project, they include a little bit about the history of the property, what work was done and a little bit about who and how (labor, materials, etc).

Staying on the Coast, the Gulf Live news website reported on the reopening of the Ocean Springs Community Center and the newly restored Walter Anderson mural there.  According to the article, the restoration of the mural was planned prior to Katrina – which put the project on hold for a little while.  The article didn’t say, but I’m pretty sure that besides Katrina Grants that the project had Community Heritage Preservation Grant funding as well.  It does sound like the community is pleased with the results and I look forward to getting down there to see it myself.

Speaking of restoration / rehabilitation projects, a news update out Brookhaven about Elizabeth Cottage at the Mississippi School for the Arts was in the Daily Leader this past week.  The article seems to be mostly an update on the project – including giving an estimated completion date for December.  What was new to me in the article was that the School had also begun renovations to Enochs Hall, built in the 1920s and adjacent to Elizabeth Cottage.  When completed, the building will be home to classrooms, a theater, an art gallery and studio space for sculpture classes.

Staying in the central part of the state, the Clarion Ledger ran a story about the Swinging Bridge in Byrum a few days ago.  The lead of the article read: “Hinds County’s plans to refurbish the old Byram Swinging Bridge into a pedestrian walk and area park has hit a snag.”  Bids for the project, which were to restore the bridge as a pedestrian walkway with interpretive signs and parking / picnic areas on both sides, came in at over twice the budgeted $560,000.  Now, the project is on hold while the county takes a closer look at where costs might be cut from the proposals.

After recent news from Meridian about buildings being demolished, it was good to see a report in the Star about a renovation project in downtown.  If successful, the project will yield some downtown living space in Meridian.  The developers hope that their efforts help show other potential investors the positives of preservation (and hopefully overturn those negative perceptions too many people have).  I’m sure the rest of MissPres is with me on wishing this project great success.  Assuming the Star keeps covering it so I can keep it in the round up.

A quick note from up in Corinth, the local paper ran a story about a photo contest sponsored by The Crossroads Museum at the Historic Depot.  Categories are: Landscape, Pets/Animals/Wildlife, Architecture, People, and Vacation.  Besides having a winner in each category, they will also have a Best in Show winner.  See the article for more information.

A couple of stories out of Natchez to close out this Roundup.

First, an article covering several items on the City’s “to do” list includes roof repair for several city buildings “pending state approval of a $562,885 grant” that the article says is from MDAH and that the department “should approve the project grant . . . any day now.”  Unfortunately, it does not say what grant they are applying for and MDAH does not have any that will be awarded anytime soon (the next is the Community Heritage Preservation Grants, but applications aren’t even due for another month).

As a reminder that preservation isn’t always about the built environment above ground – archeologists who have been doing a dig at Fort Rosalie unearthed human remains late last week.  The remains are estimated to date to the 19th Century.  I hope that the Democrat keeps on this story, I’m curious to find out what they learn.

The final story from the Democrat was a “photo feature” of some work that’s been done on Magnolia Hall.  So far, work has focused on the roof and chimneys, but I understand that some exterior stucco work is going to happen as well.  I’ve heard from some of our friends in Natchez that the building is looking good (and that we all need to go see it!).



Categories: Bridges, Brookhaven, Cool Old Places, Corinth, Grants, Gulf Coast, Historic Preservation, Hurricane Katrina, Meridian, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, News Roundups

8 replies

  1. Regarding the Natchez archeological find, early maps indicate a graveyard in the general area in relation to the fort, though the maps aren’t drawn to exact scale – and locating the exact location of the fort is one of the primary purposes of the ongoing excavations. It appears that most of the fort site has eroded off the face of the steep bluff over the course of the past 200 years. In Audubon’s 1820s diary, he described the moat around the ruins of Fort Rosalie as a place where slaves were being buried. The recent inadvertant discovery is most likely to be a Christian burial (oriented east/west, arms crossed on chest), most likely 19th century (earlier graves tend to have almost no remaining bones due to soil acidity in the area). Much of the ground was disturbed by 19th and 20th century development, including construction of the short-lived 1939 “reconstructed” Ft. Rosalie tourist attraction of which the log cabin that housed the Fat Mama’s restaurant for years is the only remaining structure. Current plans are to retain that structure and the late 19th century house next door to house visitor service functions (exhibits, restrooms). Other house remains at the site in an advanced state of deterioration will most likely be demolished since their condition makes their removal for reuse unlikely. However, architectural photographs and measured drawings have been made, and some architectural features will be salvaged. Property acquisition at the site for the NPS has been a long and messy ordeal, and the structures have suffered consequentially.

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  2. I was in the Community Center in Ocean Springs this weekend, for the first time since Katrina. It’s my sense that they’ve done a really great job on the restoration– the colors seem more vivid from cleaning.

    They’ve got up an anniversary exhibit for the museum, also, with a lot of pieces still held by the Anderson family on display, and a lot relating to art by other family members (a couple of pastels by the mother, a number of paintings by the younger brother, along with lots of ceramics by everyone). The exhibit is very much worth a special trip if you are interested in either Walter Anderson or Shearwater.

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    • The Ocean Springs Community Center really does look beautiful, the photos in the article hardly do it justice. I think the rails look great and highlight how important and valuable the murals really are. Well worth the wait!

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    • If anybody has photos they’d like to share here, just let me know–I’d love to post them!

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      • The city wisely does not allow flash photography in the community center. I think that’s why most photos turn out on the dark side. But I did hear that a documentary about the restoration will be made soon.

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        • Keep your ears open on more news about the documentary so that we can share it here. (And if you stumble across an article on it, shoot it my way for a roundup)

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