Things are heating up in the Mississippi preservation world now that the weather is cooling a bit.
In Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood, we pick up the story of the proposed Hampton Inn on the remaining green space next to Duling School. According to the Clarion-Ledger (and confirmed by several discussions on NextDoor Fondren, the neighborhood’s online social site), “Fondren residents raise concerns over proposed hotel“:
Jackson historic preservationist and architect Robert Parker Adams, a Fondren resident in nearby Woodland Hills and among founders of the association that morphed into Fondren Renaissance Foundation, doesn’t object to a hotel per se, “just a six-story hotel on that corner, which is totally inconsistent with the historic aspect of Fondren.” With an elevation of 62 feet, “it’s six floors,” he said.
“If it were a simple little two-story building, I don’t think anybody would object. Almost all of Fondren is one- or two-story.”
Former Gov. William Winter, a resident of Fondren and former longtime Archives and History board of trustees chairman, shared Adams’ concerns about the scale of the building proposed. “I know there’s a fairly large segment of people who do not want to see a large hotel built there,” he said. “I’m not sure there’s a total opposition to a hotel of any kind. I think it’s the scale of it that probably bothers more people than anything else.”
The article goes on to mention that the hotel design will come before the MDAH Permit Committee due to Duling School’s designation as a Mississippi Landmark this Thursday, October 9, but since then, the neighborhood grapevine indicates that the proposal has been suspended, or possibly withdrawn. The plot thickens . . .
Speaking of Fondren, while this has all been going on, the commercial “downtown” surrounding Duling School has recently been listed on the National Register, an event covered by both the hyper-local Find It In Fondren and the Clarion-Ledger. The official listing of the area in the vicinity of the Y-intersection of Old Canton and North State Street, first recognized as a unique suburban center by the local State-Times as early as 1956, will allow small businesses and developers to take advantage of historic preservation tax credits to rehabilitate their historic commercial buildings. According to the articles, the district nomination focuses on the downtown’s automobile-centered development that included the state’s first shopping center and some of the best small-scale Modernist commercial buildings in Mississippi, including Robert Overstreet’s Kolb’s Cleaners.
Before we leave Jackson, we should stop to congratulate the historic Belhaven neighborhood for its listing as a 2014 Great Neighborhoods in America by the American Planning Association as part of its Great Places in America program. According to the story on WAPT:
Criteria for the recognition include livability, long-range planning, neighborhood development, preservation and the relationship with the greater city.
The neighborhood’s structures are consistent throughout, including at Belhaven University, located in the heart of the neighborhood.
Belhaven is the second Mississippi neighborhood to make the list. The historic Hattiesburg District received the honor in 2011.
The historic Margaret Martin School in Natchez, now used as an arts center, may be renovated for apartments, according to the Natchez Democrat’s “Changes for Margaret Martin? Developer planning apartments for center.” The large brick 1927 Gothic Revival building designed by Meridian architect P.J. Krouse is just outside a listed historic district but is being nominated individually to the National Register of Historic Places in order to make it eligible for both state and federal historic preservation tax credits.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has a new director, Katie Blount, who began working for MDAH in 1994 and most recently served as Deputy Director for Communication. According to the Clarion-Ledger’s article of Sept. 15:
The department’s board of trustees announced last week that it met Sept. 4 and chose Blount to become the department’s seventh executive director since it was founded in 1902. Blount will succeed Hank Holmes, who retires Jan. 31.
The department has 122 employees, and its current budget is $10.1 million.
Blount earned a bachelor’s degree in English and history from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Southern studies from the University of Mississippi. She is married to state Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, who recuses himself from voting on matters that affect the Department of Archives and History, including its budget.
I’m sure I’ve missed something or more than one something, so if you know of a preservation story in your neck of the woods, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to catch me up.