It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a proper news roundup, so we have lots to catch up on (or “on up which to catch”?).
A couple of stories and videos in the last few weeks have kept us updated on the work going on at the New Capitol, where the last we checked, the gilded eagle high atop the building had been stripped down to her copper and was awaiting new gold leaf. The Clarion-Ledger said
Craftsmen recently coated the statue with a fresh layer of 23¾-karat gold leaf. That’s about $10,000 worth of material manufactured in Italy especially for this project.
And Walt Grayson showed us video of them doing it, which is a must see for all MissPresers: http://www.msnewsnow.com/story/28957042/walts-look-around-the-capitol-eagle
In a story about the Tudor-Revival-style former Wright-Ferguson Funeral Home, built in 1929 catty corner from the New Capitol in Jackson, the Clarion-Ledger reports (4-23-2015) that the state now has authority to buy the property, which recently closed:
Gov. Phil Bryant has signed Senate Bill 2685, which allows the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration to purchase the old Wright & Ferguson Funeral Home property if money is available. The Legislature didn’t include any money in the bill for the purchase, said state Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, who authored the legislation.
If the state purchases the building, there is no plans to tear it down. The goal is to use the 140 parking spaces for state employees to park, freeing the state to possibly terminate a $76,800 a year lease for 160 parking spaces at the old Sun-n-Sand hotel on Lamar Street.
Blount later notes that the Sun-n-Sand Hotel is an eyesore and needs to be “redeveloped,” which I agree with, but wonder if we have the same definition of “redeveloped.” Built in 1960, the Sun-n-Sand, a Mid-Century Modernist landmark, was listed on MHT’s 10 Most Endangered Places in 2005, and we’ve run two posts about it here on MissPres:
The Hattiesburg American gave us a good review (4-22-2015) of the recent MHT Listen Up! conference, which was held in the beautifully renovated Odd Fellows hall downtown and presented a host of helpful speakers focused on revitalizing historic downtowns.
“I started in downtown in 1989, buying my building for my office … and I renovated it and converted it back to like it was in 1905, and used historic tax credits to do so,” said Larry Albert, owner of Albert & Associates Architects. “I did that — and renovated the McKenzie building and the Plums and A Gallery building — because I believe in cultural heritage and how important that is.
“The renovation of historic buildings goes hand-in-hand with urban renewal. If you don’t have people restoring historic houses and historic buildings, you don’t have urban renewal. And if you don’t have urban renewal, you have decay.”
If you’re interested in folk art environments, you’ll want to read this case study posted on the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) blog or watch this video of the presentation made by Jennifer Joy Jameson of the Mississippi Arts Commission in February (I’m not sure why the blog post has a date of January 27, 2011, when the presentation occurred in Feb 2015). Jameson’s presentation takes a look at preservation efforts for Margaret’s Grocery in Vicksburg and the L.V. Hull Home in Kosciusko.
According to the Brookhaven Daily Leader (5-2-2015), Brookhaven “officials are on track to seek a Certified Local Governoment certification for the home seeker’s paradise.” Town leaders first became interested in the CLG designation because it would make several downtown landmarks such as the railroad depot eligible for MDAH grants, especially the Community Heritage Preservation Grant. The CLG designation requires a city to pass an ordinance establishing a historic preservation commission that will oversee certain locally established historic districts.
CEO of Hurst Review Services Pat Lowery agrees that such a program could help the downtown area. Hurst Review Services is located in a building built in downtown Brookhaven in the early 1900s but renovated when the business moved into it. . . .
“As long as the city doesn’t choose to be more restrictive than the national restoration guidelines, they would be fine,” Lowery said about the program if the city decides to move forward. . . .
He said staying within the regulations were “not really that onerous.” He said that although major changes to to fit the building’s established time period, they were still able to add things to make the building have a modern feel.
“Progress means saying good bye to a long-time New Albany sight,” says a May 6, 2015 article on New Albany newsweb, referring to the removal of the old Ship Island, Ripley and Kentucky Railroad bridge, built sometime in the late nineteenth century in downtown New Albany. Now a part of the Tanglefoot Trail, opened in 2014, the bridge “was too low for large trucks to pass under it,” and will be replaced by a 120-foot long steel arched bridge. No indication why the old bridge couldn’t have been raised and the approaches modified to allow trucks through.
Lastly, congratulations to the Museum of the Mississippi Delta in Greenwood, which was highlighted on the blog of the American Association for State and Local History in a post titled, “How to Turn a Classic Mid-century Building into a Museum.”
The Museum of the Mississippi Delta (MoMD) is undergoing its first major renovation since moving into the former headquarters of Billups Petroleum Company in 1974. A grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Building Fund for the Arts program provided the seed money the board used to raise the necessary funds for the $450,000 project.
MoMD is located in a classic mid-century designed building erected in 1957. The architects were careful not to disturb the clean lines of the building; they chose instead to enhance the fact that a museum is behind the brick façade. As of this writing, the project is halfway done and the results are impressive. Hidden behind large holly bushes for decades, the façade of the building once had an impressive row of windows on either side of the front doors. With the holly bushes removed, one can now see the distinct look of that mid-century era. It’s as if the building is being reborn.
I took a picture of the Billups building a couple of years ago and remember thinking that they should cut down all those bushes and let the building shine again, so I’m glad they took my mental advice! My next trip to Greenwood will definitely include a trip to MoMD and its mid-century gem!