MissPres News Roundup 12-8-2014

I figured last week would be a slow preservation news week other than the Community Heritage Preservation Grant awards. I was very wrong. Let’s get started.

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Meridian StarIn “Architectural Tour to Spotlight Meridian’s Modernists,” the Meridian Star announced the upcoming Meridian Modernism tour and also gave a good local re-introduction to architect Chris Risher, Sr. and his place in Mississippi’s Modernist movement. If you’re intrigued by Modernism but aren’t sure what good Modernism looks like, think about taking the Meridian Modernism tour this Saturday, Dec. 13. Other Risher buildings on the tour will include Congregation Beth Israel (1964) and Crestwood School (1965), as well as Hope Village, formerly the Masonic Children’s Home. Weather looks like it will be perfect!

The article also gives good coverage to the endangered Meridian Police Station and walks readers through the Mississippi Landmark designation for which the building is under consideration.

In a report  detailing the significance of the building, Jennifer Baughn, Chief Architectural Historian for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, said the former Meridian Police Department building on 6th Street is one of the state’s most outstanding works of Modernism. The building was accepted for decades as the pinnacle of Risher’s career, and it influenced many Mississippi architects who studied the building while at Mississippi State University, Baughn said. . . .

The process of having such a designation is already under way and the board is expected to vote on it on January 16. The public comment period is open, so people who want to voice their opinions on the matter may do so by writing to Katherine Anderson, Mississippi Landmarks administrator, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, P.O. Box 571, Jackson, Ms., 39205 or sent it via email to: kanderson@mdah.state.ms.us

Read more . . .

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10153814_775989119107207_2654588016851828740_nAnother tour this coming weekend is one I missed in last week’s post “Taking an Architectural Tour this Christmas?” The Leland-Deer Creek Garden Club will host a special Holiday Home Tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Christmas on Deer Creek.” If you’re unfamiliar with Christmas on Deer Creek, as I was a couple of years ago when I wandered through Leland just after Christmas, prepare to be charmed by the lighted and moving floats (and I mean, real floats) out on the creek that winds through Leland. The house tour is $30 and include the tour of 5 homes and lunch.

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According to the Jackson Free Press’ Fondren Hotel Project Withdrawn,” the Hampton Inn project proposed on the side lawn of the historic Duling School in Jackson’s Fondren downtown area.

Plans called for a 100-room, four-story urban boutique-style Hampton Inn with an underground parking garage at the corner of Duling Avenue and Old Canton Road.

Desai said the project did not draw enough support to movement, but he declined to go into details.

Read more . . .

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An update on the proposed demolition of two nineteenth-century houses on Adams Street in Vicksburg behind the Warren County Courthouse, which we covered last time. The county had requested a demolition permit from the Vicksburg Architectural Review Board and the request was denied. The county had then appealed that decision to the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen, which considered the matter last week, according to an update in the Vicksburg Post. The result was that the “Board delays acting on county’s appeal on demolition, moving the matter to their next meeting:

After nearly two hours of testimony that included a history lesson by local lawyer Lee Davis Thames Sr. on the 10-year controversy involving the county’s request to take them down, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 3-0 to take under advisement the county’s appeal of the Board of Architectural Review’s refusal to allow their demolition. . . .

[Thames] said the county’s appeal was flawed because it did not specify why it was appealing the Board of Architectural Review’s decision. “You have to say more than ‘we appeal,” he said.

You mean that governmental bodies are supposed to operate by laws and procedures? I’ve never heard of such!

There was also what I read as a not-so-subtle threat to vacate the premises by county supervisor Richard George–over what is essentially a fight over two small lots for excess parking:

“As our community grows, our need grows for public service. Our court system is overwhelmed with criminal activity problems. Our facilities are overloaded and our parking is extremely limited,” George said. . . .

“We also have serious concerns for the future of Warren County governmental services to be able to continue.”

Read more . . .

To help you understand the ludicrousness of the county’s hyperventilating, here’s a map showing the courthouse and the two large parking lots behind and catty-corner of it, along with the two endangered houses in the black circle. I get that there can be legitimate and reasonable arguments about saving historic buildings, but it drives me insane when public officials treat the public and other officials like idiots.

Vicksburg Demolitions

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Better news from Cleveland, where the Bolivar Commercial reports that “Repairs near completion on Amzie Moore’s home.” It’s been a long time since July 2011 when we announced the grants awarded by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to various civil rights sites around the state. One of those was the Amzie Moore house, and while it’s taken a little over three years to get from start to finish, County Administrator Will Hooker says the project should be complete by the end of the year. Amzie Moore was president of the local NAACP chapter in the 1950s before becoming the state president, and his home near the Nailor School became a safe haven for visiting civil rights workers and leaders.

The house will be part of the Civil Rights Trail.

“When people go on the trail, it’ll be a tourism attraction and give information on the life and contributions that he played — specifically his roles in Bolivar County. It’ll be open to the public,” said Hooker.

Read more

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An editorial by Nen Hillyer in the Natchez Democrat suggests that “Natchez can learn from others’ history,” and he compares Savannah’s wonderful square parks scattered throughout the original grid with Natchez’ bluff-top promenade overlooking the Mississippi River.

If Savannah, Ga., could offer Natchez a piece of advice, I bet it would be this–beware of those who want to give away your greatest resource.

. . .

In 2007, [Natchez] sold part of the bluff to condominium developers, whose plans were eventually rejected by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Now the city is developing plans to turnover a strip of land for a new farmers’ market, state extension service office and demonstration gardens.

Given Savannah’s experience with Ellis Square, does it make sense for Natchez to give away one of the community’s most valuable pieces of land? Instead of giving away the bluff, why don’t we use it to enhance the city and surrounding neighborhoods?

Read more . . .

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Several papers covered the recent Community Heritage Preservation Grants awarded in their communities and gave more information about their upcoming projects, including West Point’s City Hall, Bolivar County Courthouse in Cleveland, and Old Spanish Fort/La Pointe-Krebs House in Pascagoula.

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And maybe you remember the enormous wood canoe that used to reside in the Old Capitol Museum. Since the Old Capitol was damaged in Hurricane Katrina, the canoe has been in storage, and it will find a new home in the Museum of Mississippi History, now under construction and expected to open in 2017. In the meantime, it’s on display in Oklahoma along with a large group of ancient canoes discovered in Florida in 2000, according to Indian Country Today.

Director of Operations Brad Deramus swings open the door and extends an invitation to step foot inside and behold an item made in 1500 A.D., discovered intact and preserved from a swamp in the Mississippi Delta.

Most likely the immense 26-foot-long dugout canoe was made by Chickasaws.

“Think George Washington’s great-great-grandfather,” Deramus remarks to illustrate the age of the ancient vessel.

It was discovered in Steele Bayou Lake in Washington County, Mississippi, decades ago. It is on loan from the Department of Mississippi Archives and History to augmentDugout Canoes: Paddling through the Americas.

Read more . . .

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And to end on a wacky story, only tangentially related to preservation, well, I hardly need to type more than the article title from the Clarion-Ledger and give you the link to go read more. “Mannequin named Paulette creates stir in Carrollton.” She sits on the front porch of Bill and Judy Gillespie’s house in Carrollton, dressed appropriately for every season, has been a write-in candidate on ballots, and has a wardrobe the size of an attic. The story begins . . .

Bill Gillespie is not sure what possessed him to buy a mannequin named Paulette about 25 years ago, but from the beginning Paulette has created a lot of stir.

Read more . . .

And this is why I love Mississippi . . .



Categories: Carrollton, Civil Rights, Cleveland, Courthouses, Delta, Demolition/Abandonment, Grants, Heritage Tourism, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Leland, MDAH, Meridian, Mississippi Heritage Trust, Mississippi Landmarks, Natchez, Vicksburg

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1 reply

  1. Parking behind the Warren County Courthouse is tight, and the lot is often almost full. But I have not seen the other parking lot (half a block away) to be completely full. So the argument that the two buildings must be torn down because parking is “critical” does not hold water. An alternative: the parking spaces in the existing lot behind the courthouse could probably be reconfigured to be more efficient, thereby making room for more cars.

    If the county officials said they could not afford to maintain the two historic buildings, then they would have a legitimate topic for discussion. The white wood building (the north one) is in poor condition and the roof is beginning to fail. But the southern building looks sound. It must have been covered with brick within the last few decades, and no longer looks very original to me. But its bones are definitely old.

    Some of this sounds like the hollow arguments that preceded tearing down the Ceres Plantation. We were told some developer might want that particular chunk of land, despite there being acres and acres that had never been leased. Hmmm.

    Like

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