In case you haven’t been in yelling distance of the state of Mississippi, the biggest news is that for the first time ever, both Ole Miss and Mississippi State are in the Top 5 with undefeated records six games into the college football season. It’s obvious from the paucity of preservation news this week that local newspapers and their readers are otherwise occupied, but there have been a few items of interest.
First, in Jackson, musician Sherman Lee Dillon is leading an effort to save the former headquarters of Trumpet Records at 309 Farish Street. According to “Saving Trumpet Records” on the Made in Mississippi blog:
Trumpet Records was the first record company in Mississippi to achieve national stature. The premiere releases by Mississippi blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson II, Elmore James and Willie Love appeared on Trumpet in 1951. Early Mississippi gospel and country artists also appeared on the Trumpet label.
The impact of Trumpet Records on American music has been profound and lasting, but the site of the studio is rapidly decaying. The building that housed this jewel in the crown of Mississippi music has not only lost its luster, but it’s become a dilapidated shell. While the roof and walls are intact, they’re barren and pitted, covered with patches of peeling paint and without windows, open to the erosive elements of weather.
Preservation efforts in the Farish neighborhood have been disappointing, but if you’re interested in helping in this project, head over to “Save Trumpet Records” and get involved.
Down in Hazlehurst, the editor of the Copiah County Courier asks about the historic Millsaps Hotel, “Is it really worth saving?” and seems to come down on the side of “No, it isn’t.” The former railroad hotel, built in 1918, was listed on the National Register in 1998, and designated as a Mississippi Landmark in January 2013, and received a $176,160 Community Heritage Preservation Grant from MDAH last December for roof replacement and window repair. The Courier calls it an eyesore, among other things, and questions when and if work will ever begin on the building:
Daphine Foster, who serves on the board of the Calling Panther Foundation, reported at a recent meeting of the Copiah County Board of Supervisors that a good bit of work had been done on the inside of the building and next will come work on the roof. The Foundation also received approval from the supervisors for $20,000 and $44,000 from the city of Hazlehurst in matching funds.
As many times as I drive by (and shudder at) that place each day and each week, I’ve yet to recall seeing any work done on it – inside or out.
If you go over to the article, you can take a poll answering the question “Should the crumbling, unsafe Millsaps Hotel, which is one of the few remaining railroad hotels in the state located in downtown Hazlehurst, be restored and turned into a community center funded through grants?”
Speaking of renovation projects, the Facebook page of Preserve Marshall County shows some good before and after photos of the Holly Springs City Hall, after a recent cornice repair. Although never in the bad condition that the Millsaps Hotel is in, this Holly Springs project shows that with a little vision and a lot of hard work historic buildings can go from eyesore to beauty.
Holly Springs received more well-deserved attention for its “Behind the Big House” program on the Center for Southern Studies blog in an article by Dr. Jodi Skipper that also appeared in this spring’s Southern Register:
For the past two years, Southern Studies students have helped to fill gaps in Mississippi interpretations of African American history by participating in the Behind the Big House (BTBH) program in Holly Springs, Mississippi. The program interprets the lives of the enslaved through extant former slave dwellings hidden in plain view. The dwellings were readapted for various uses—making it difficult to recognize their original purposes—and suppressed from historical memory, either unintentionally or by design.
I haven’t been able to make it up to Holly Springs for pilgrimage in the last several years, but I’m looking forward to making it a priority this coming spring to see this ground-breaking approach to pilgrimage for myself.
Finally, for the cemetery buffs among us, check out this presentation on “Modern Problems in Historic Cemeteries” by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT, say that ten times fast). You can read the text at the NCPTT link above, or watch the 16-minute video here.