As we’ve noted before, “Mississippi Landmark” and “National Register” are sometimes confused, but they are two completely different programs to recognize historic properties. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, while the Mississippi Landmark designation is conferred by the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History. The designating authority comes from the Mississippi Antiquities Act (Code of 1972), which states:
(39-7-11) (2) All other sites, objects, buildings, artifacts, implements, structures and locations of historical or architectural significance located in or under the surface of any lands belonging to the State of Mississippi or to any county, city or political subdivision of the state may be declared to be Mississippi landmarks by majority vote of the board. Every Mississippi landmark shall be so designated based upon its significance within the historical or architectural patterns of a community, a county, the State of Mississippi, or the United States of America. Upon such action by the board, the designation of the Mississippi landmark shall be recorded in the deed records of the county in which the landmark is located. All such designated sites or items located on public lands within the State of Mississippi may not be taken, altered, damaged, destroyed, salvaged, restored, renovated or excavated without a permit from, the board or in violation of the terms of such permit.
Unfortunately, as we learned this year with Mendenhall School and other designated landmarks, the MDAH Board of Trustees seems to be in the mood to allow demolition at the drop of a hat, or even at the threatened drop of a hat, so I’m less enthusiastic about the Mississippi Landmark designation than I have been in years past. However, when overseen by a Board of Trustees that believes in its mission, the Landmark designation actually does more to protect a building from demolition than a simple National Register listing does.
While MDAH has the authority to designate any publicly owned building in the state, with or without the public owner’s consent, all of the buildings designated in 2013 were designated at the owner’s request. This designation does make a building eligible for grants from MDAH, most significantly the popular Community Heritage Preservation Grant.
In 2013, MDAH added seven properties to its list of Mississippi Landmarks.