I hope everyone is thinking about the different Historic Preservation Month related events that are on the calendar.
Late April saw a slew of stories around the nation on the anniversary of last year’s tornado outbreak. While most of these focused on Alabama, Smithville had its coverage too. This story in the Hattiesburg American is typical of what I saw the past couple of weeks. Mostly the coverage is about the people, but Smithville School is mentioned as well – specifically the plans to build a new one to replace the damaged building.
Rebuilding the school was delayed while the Mississippi Department of Archives and History considered saving a building from the 1930s. That plan was eventually abandoned and officials hope to have a new school by Fall 2013.
I knew that MDAH had made that decision (it was in a roundup about a month ago) but reading it in a new story was a little like salt in a wound for those of us who thought that it could be saved.
Another story that takes us back about a year relates to the iconic Big Red Barn near Rolling Fork. Last year, we had a whole post on the collapse of the roof. The most recent story is that the Army Corps of Engineers expects to have “the remains . . . removed by June 15.” The wood from the building will be salvaged and it will be up to the Lower Delta Partnership to determine what happens with it. Word is that the silos are remaining and there is some talk of rebuilding a smaller version of the barn. The grounds near the barn are also a source of Native American archeological site – so expect MDAH to be involved in whatever happens there under Section 106 regulations.
Down in Biloxi, we keep seeing stories about blighted buildings that the City has been ordering to come down since the owners have not done anything (or very little) to secure them since Katrina. One of these buildings, the White House, gets another 30 days because the current owner was able to show the City that they are working on getting the property into hands that will restore it and find a use for it. He seems very interested that the new person be someone who will keep the historic character intact. Hopefully the “historical development consultant” he has hired to help market it will emphasis state and federal tax credits as an incentive.
A development project to watch in Natchez could threaten the historic Forks in the Road site. According to the story, the developer of an affordable housing project on/near the site says they will do their best to preserve it. One of the ideas is for the developer to include erecting a shotgun style house to serve as a museum for the Forks artifacts. This probably will be a story we’ll have to watch. I’ll include stories I catch from the press and I hope our friends in Natchez will keep us informed on what they know too.
Also in Natchez, a story related to the renovations to the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center popped up. The focus was on the relocation of the Natchez Music Festival because the rigging on the stage of the center is not currently safe. MDAH provided a Community Heritage Grant to the building to undo some changes that had been made to the stage – and those working on the project are still getting complete estimates for the work that needs to be done. Hopefully, there won’t be too many other events relocated because of the renovations.
Continuing a series of stories about Moss Point‘s old fire station building (most recently in this roundup), Mayor Aneice Liddell did indeed veto the Board of Aldermen decision to demolish the structure. A second story on the building this week focused on the Mayor’s planning efforts to secure funding for the restoring the building. The City has some FEMA money which can be used, and it sounds like the Mayor hopes to apply for funds from MDAH the next time one of their grant rounds opens.
Some follow-up to last Monday’s post about the Statewide Historic Preservation Conference. As I predicted, we’re starting to see stories on the award winners:
Columbus architect Sam Kaye received the Al and Libby Hollingsworth Award for Lifetime Achievement – and the Dispatch included a photo from the ceremony in their write-up. I wish they had written more about Kaye’s achievements in the paper, but they did include a quote from former Governor William Winter, who said, “I know of no architect who has done more to develop a public appreciation of historic preservation than has Sam Kaye.”
In all, 21 awards were given to outstanding preservation projects around the state – including Meridian City Hall and the Hattiesburg Oddfellows Building which both had local press on the stories. I’ll keep watching for the local press stories, but I understand that MHT will probably put the full press release on their website soon too so we can have the full list of awards given. When I checked to see if it was up yet (it wasn’t last I looked), I did see that the specific presentations I commented on last week were available on their website – so if you missed the conference (or attended but want the information to share), you can find them here.
Finally, the American down in Hattiesburg is continuing to do short pieces on historic buildings – and this time they feature a small, unassuming building, Bethea Drugs, that most would think is just “old” and not “historic.” Kudos the the American for including it!
Categories: Biloxi, Columbus, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Gulf Coast, Hattiesburg, Historic Preservation, Lost Mississippi, Meridian, Mississippi Heritage Trust, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Natchez, News Roundups, Preservation People/Events, Renovation Projects, Rolling Fork