MissPres Newsroundup 10-3-2011

MissPres may have been off last week (and showing some fun vacation post cards), but the news didn’t stop.  In fact, with the cooler weather, I think preservation related news and events are just starting to heat up.

October is Archeology Month and I hear from some archeologist pals that there are events planned around the state throughout the month to celebrate – but I don’t know where that list might be.  One event I do know about is that MDAH archaeologits are sharing some of their favorite artifacts during this week’s “History is Lunch” event.  If you’re in the Jackson area, it’s Wednesday from noon – 1 at the Winter Archives Building downtown.

First one up from Natchez (there are a lot this week) is that the paper reported that the city would assist the Natchez Festival of Music organizers with matching funds if they receive a grant from MDAH to repair and revamp the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center.  Reading the article, it sounds like funding to match the potential MDAH Grant is coming from multiple sources and the group has only asked the city to make up the difference.  The plans are to repair the roof, repair and replace windows and exterior lighting.  The Community Heritage Preservation grant deadline is this coming Friday and we’ll be watching for MDAH’s announcement when the awards are made closer to the end of the year.

There’s been some talk in Natchez in recent weeks about the possibilty of an oil well going up near the National Cemetery – but luckily the Democrat reports that a recent meeting planned to discuss this prospective well “was cancelled when the oil company apparently decided to change its course.”  I thought I first read about this in the Democrat a couple of weeks ago, but couldn’t find any older news articles on the site – so maybe I just heard about it from folks in Natchez.  Apparently, the major issue has been questions over the access route to the well (which would not be on cemetery grounds) and what kind of disturbance the heavy trucks might cause.  The idea of a new plan to approach the same site doesn’t feel like all the preservation issues are really being addressed on this one – but that could just be me.

One of our MissPres friends was in the news in Natchez this past week – Kathleen Jenkins was heavily quoted in an article about what the National Park Service is planning for the Fort Rosalie site.  NPS owns about 7 of the 35 acres where the fort once stood and is working to protect the archaelogical resources and provide a nice green space with interpretive markers to attract and educate visitors about the earliest parts of the city’s history since “the site provides an undisturbed record of human occupancy that spans through the Americans, the English, the French and all the way throughout the Natchez Indians.”

It’s Pilgrimage time in Natchez.  The Democrat ran one story on the start of the annual Fall Pilgrimage reading “Doors open wide for pilgrims.”  The weather is certainly cooperating with the event so far – the weather is perfect for visiting the grand old houses – many of which are only open for tours during Pilgrimage.  I wonder if it’s too late to put in for a day or two off to get down there and avoid the weekend crowds . . .

In contrast to Pilgrimage and the focus on Natchez’s grand houses, Historic Jefferson College held their 4th “Black and Blue” living history program this weekend which featured “volunteer actors playing roles of enslaved people on Second Creek, Natchez and Jefferson County, who planned an insurrection to take their freedom.”  According to the article, “Natchez newspapers remained silent about the slaves’ conspiracy and printed nothing. If not for private correspondence between whites, there would have been no records of slaves revolting.”  I think I remember seeing that Historic Jefferson College was hosting “Black and Blue” again, but I wish I knew more about what they were reenacting because I think I would have made the trek down there for it if I had.

Over in Meridian, the Star ran a lengthy peice on what the headline calls the “Taj Ma-City Hall” and compares the project to the Energizer Bunny because the project “just seem to keep going, and going, and going.”  Although “city officials say work really is close to completion this time,” we still don’t have a competion date because it’s changed so many times.  The feature gives everyone a nice background to how the project got to where it’s at – which makes me very happy because it’s so much easier to link to it than to find all the places we’ve mentioned the project in past news roundups.

Up in Columbus, the Dispatch reported on the Seventh Avenue Festival – which it said “shines light on a  historic neighborhood.”  This part of Columbus was where the Queen City Hotel had been and, entertainment wise, was known for its ties to rhythm and blues.  While the city councilman for the area knows that there is much to be done to return the area to what it was in its heyday (50’s & 60’s), the festival has been known to draw 15,000 people.

Down in Woodville, their annual Deer and Wildlife Festival is this coming weekend.  “But JR, what’s that got to do with historic preservation?” Well, the event takes places right in the heart of Woodville around the Courthouse (one of my namesake’s designs you know) and the other buildings on the square.  That and the local Main Street group plays a big role in the festival each year.

There were a couple of marker ceremonies this past week.  In Osyka, “T. Tommy Cutrer became the newest artist honored with a marker on the Mississippi Country Music Trail” this weekend.  This is another trail/marker program like the Blues Trail, but it’s just getting up and running as Cutrer’s is only the 15th marker put up.  There’s a good picture of the marker in the Enterprise Journal.

The Laurel area media had three different pieces on South Mississippi Charity Hospital – which had a marker unveiling this past week as well.  The hospital was “[o]ne of four state charity hospitals authorized in 1917” and was “vital part of  Jones County before closing its doors in 1989.”  The Leader Call ran a pieces prior to and after the ceremony and the event also had a blurb on the WDAM website.

I’m going to take us back to Natchez for the last story this week.  The Democrat reports that “Magnolia Hall was the site of an investigation Thursday  night [September 29] by a ghost-hunting group, the Natchez Area Paranormal Society.”  Nothing in the piece about their “findings” but since Halloween is coming up I figured I couldn’t pass up sharing it.  Plus, I’d say that the comments on this one are going to be worth the read (maybe even more that the story itself).

And I foolishly thought that a mini-round up would keep this one from being too long.  What a way to come back from a MissPre vacation!

Categories: Columbus, Cool Old Places, Heritage Tourism, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Meridian, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, National Park Service, News Roundups, Preservation People/Events, Woodville

7 replies

  1. Thanks for all the attention on Natchez subjects – this is the busiest little town! I do want to call attention to one aspect of the story – the Natchez Festival of Music piece – because it illustrates a common conundrum that occurs when a nonprofit organization takes on the twin tasks of their mission activity (in this case, a music festival – but it often is a museum) then also attempts the ongoing preservation of a historic structure which as we all know can be quite a money pit. In my observation, the preservation needs are often overwhelming to the point of killing the original mission. The Margaret Martin performing arts center is another example of a city-owned building that in my opinion should be maintained by public funds for public benefit or sold outright with easements on its use. I just don’t know of good examples of small non-profit groups achieving “win-win” arrangements when they must pay to keep up publicly owned structures for their operation.


  2. That’s an excellent summation of a common problem, and I agree completely Kathleen.


  3. JRGordon, I am surprised you have not mentioned, either in this News Roundup or in a separate post, the upcoming book about “you” and your courthouse designs coming out later this month.


    • I’m modest, so I didn’t want to promote *my* bio too much . . .

      In all seriousness, I saw somewhere that it was coming, but knew that the news of it would end up being a separate post (I just didn’t know that Malvaney had it planned for this week).


  4. Thanks for stealing the thunder from tomorrow’s post, W.


  5. Thanks for mentioning our investigation into Magnolia Hall in Natchez. Our findings were significant, as we captured several pieces of evidence including audio recordings, and videos of unusual orbs amng other things. You may find our public service project even more interesting however, as we are preserving the old cemetery at Meadvilla just outside of Natchez in Washington, MS. BLC Wales is buried in that cemetery, and he is an important historical figure from the Mississippi territory days. The cemetery was totally abandoned, overgrown and neglected, but we have cut a path through the dense undergrowth to it, have cleared it, and are researching those buried there as well as GPSing the marker(s). We will turn all our work and research over to the Historical Society fro archiving once we have finished. Cemetery preservation is just one of the things we do, besides helping families in distress, in our volunteer work with NAPS.
    -Mike Chapman
    President, Natchez Area Paranormal Society



  1. MissPres News Roundup 10-17-2011 « Preservation in Mississippi

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