Not a lot of preservation news around the state in recent weeks – so I have a short roundup to start your October.
We’re going to start in Greenville. One of our last roundups had a story about their new local district, which also mentioned that the National Register District was going to be considered by MDAH’s Review Board. The latest story tells us that the Review Board recommended the nomination go to the National Park Service – the final step in getting the National Register district designated. This most recent article also keeps the Local and National Register District intertwined – indicating that the legality questions regarding the opt-out clause in the Local District ordinance might cause problems for the National Register district. At least, that’s the way I read the piece. However, while the boundaries might be the same – the designation processes are independent of each other.
News out of Starkville brings the Cooley Building / Cotton Mill has a new person heading the redevelopment of the building. The article calls the project an “endless saga” – but I admit that I do not fully know what all the issues have been in getting the plan for the building set and executed. What irks me most is that the building’s listing on the National Register has been blamed for some of the delays because of the approval required from the Park Service for the changes – which the article says took over a year for the first developer. Since this project seems like a textbook tax credit project, I wonder how drastically the original plans changed the building. Hopefully the new developer will start with a plan that needs very few revisions before work can begin.
Down on the coast, news in Gulfport is that the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport Commission will be looking into repairing a World War II era hanger that suffered damage from Hurricane Katrina. A local group is interested in the building becoming an aviation museum – which seems to be one of the reasons the Commission voted to look at saving the building.
A few stories from the Natchez paper the past couple of weeks. First up, is a story that the city will be looking at restoring the downtown railroad depot (for those familiar with Natchez, it’s where Cock of the Walk is located). The plans still seem to be in the early stages – which includes raising some private funds to assist with the project – but it looks like something that we’ll be keeping an eye on.
Two short snippets in The Democrat this week as well. One was highlighting the “final touches” in preparation for Fall Pilgrimage. Of course, Pilgrimage means that there will be more stories over the next month as the paper will report on the attendance.
The other story was the first one I’d seen around the state regarding David Preziosi leaving the Mississippi Heritage Trust for a position in Dallas. Nothing in this story mentioned MHT’s plans to find a new Executive Director – which is the big question for the organization moving forward. MHT’s own website also doesn’t mention plans for a new director in its formal announcement:
Executive Director Moves on to Texas
David Preziosi, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust has left the organization to take on a new role in Texas as the Executive Director of Preservation Dallas. Preziosi was with MHT for 10 years and worked on many programs in his time at MHT. He built on the previous work of MHT director Stella Gray Bryant Sykes. During his time he worked on the highly successful 10 Most Endangered Historic Places program, Heritage Awards, annual conferences, workshops, tours, and spent much of his time traveling around the state advocating for historic preservation efforts and helping local communities with preservation issues. In addition he worked on Historic Resource Surveys, Design Guidelines, and listing places and districts on the National Register of Historic Places. His leadership was crucial in MHT’s response following Hurricane Katrina and he worked tirelessly for two years on recovery issues including damage assessment, fundraising, public relations, developing a demonstration stabilization program, and lobbying for federal funding for damaged historic structures. He will be missed and we wish him luck in Texas!!
Categories: Cool Old Places, Greenville, Gulfport, Heritage Tourism, Historic Preservation, Mississippi Heritage Trust, Natchez, National Register, News Roundups, Renovation Projects, Starkville
Well, there is certainly positive news to report from the hinterlands of the north Mississippi Hill Country region. On Saturday, 22 September Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc. (PMCHS) held its second “The Wrecking Ball” – our annual fund-raising dinner/event which was well attended by upwards of 175 folks under the beautiful treed canopy of historic Chalmers Institute’s 1837 campus. A brief but nice article in The South Reporter:
Last year, we feted the first “Wrecking Ball” in hopes of generating sufficient support to raise matching funds for a Community Heritage Preservation Grant through MDAH for much-needed stabilization work on this long-neglected and ancient building. We were successful, and subsequently secured an MDAH grant allowing us to move forward. As testament to our efforts, this year’s “Wrecking Ball” event, again on the campus lawn…had Chalmers Institute – now a construction site…serving as a backdrop to the festivities. We were also honored that Ken P’Pool, Deputy SHPO for the State of Mississippi took time to join us that evening and publicly share a few words of praise for PMCHS’ efforts and the importance of historic preservation in our communities everywhere as both invaluable touchstones to the soul of a community and beneficial economic tools.
Tomorrow at 5:30, I am on the agenda for the Holly Springs Mayor & Board of Aldermens’ meeting to present two long-overdue and perplexing issues: 1) The reallocation to PMCHS of some $81,000 in State funds remaining from a $90,0000 funding allocated to the restoration of Chalmers Institute (NRHP Individual Listing and Mississippi Landmark) through 2003 SB #2988 – which the City of Holly Springs has been holding since 2006…and 2) The continued lack of qualified oversight to address MDAH and NPS protocols for on-going work at Hill Crest Cemetery (NRHP) funded through 2003 SB #2988 – $300,000 and 2004 SB #2010 – $200,000, also held by the City of Holly Springs since 2006. Say a prayer, call on your holy man, run through your worry/prayer beads for a positive outcome for both of these vital funding opportunities to be properly resolved in a manner that will prove beneficial to these irreplaceable historic properties.
Chelius H. Carter, President
Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc.