Let’s take a look at what’s going on in Mississippi’s preservation world this mid-May as the magnolias blossom, the humidity begins to drip, and the cicadas fill the air with their love-sick hum.
In Tupelo, the Daily Journal reports that the National Park Service is “sending out feelers” to the public to see if “anyone is interested in restoring” or converting eight of its Tupelo Homestead houses just north of the Barnes Crossing Mall.
The historic buildings will not be sold and they cannot be moved. The National Park Service is offering leases, ranging from three years to 60 years. Interested people will be invited to tour the sites later this month.
“Right now, we are calling for Requests for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) said NTP cultural resources specialist Chris Smith. “Once we see what interest there is, we will go from there with requests for proposals.
“They can either use all of them or just one. With the close proximity to the mall, it would be a great location for a small business.”
Homestead communities date to a program of the federal Resettlement Administration) in the 1930s, when the federal government attempted to create sustainable semi-rural neighborhoods for working-class families. The Tupelo Homesteads was the largest of four built in the state (the others were in Hattiesburg, Meridian, and McComb), but none were very successful in their original purpose, and the Tupelo community has been owned by the Park Service as its headquarters for the Natchez Trace since 1940. The community is listed on the National Register, and you can find the nomination on MDAH’s Historic Resources Database.
If you’re interested in leasing the houses, email Christina_Smith@nps.gov by this Friday, May 22, 2015.
The MDAH website is announcing a “History Road Show” to be held in Kosciusko, May 30, 2015, from 9:30 to 2:30 at the Mary Ricks Thornton Cultural Center. I’ve placed this event on the MissPres calendar, which is a good place to check up on occasionally to see what’s going on around the state.
Join MDAH staff for a discussion of preservation successes and local treasures. Topics will highlight archaeology, the Mississippi State Capitol, and Kosciusko’s National Register properties, including the Mary Ricks Thornton Cultural Center.
9:30 a.m. Listed! Kosciusko’s National Register Properties
Bill Gatlin, architectural historian
10:30 a.m. Archaeology of the North Central Hills
David Abbott, archaeologist
11:30 a.m. Lunch (provided) 12:30 p.m. The History of the Mississippi State Capitol
Kathy Broom, Mississippi State Capitol
1:30 p.m. The Past and Present History of the Mary Ricks Thornton Cultural Center
Kosciusko-Attala Historical Society
The program and lunch are free. Co-sponsored by the Kosciusko-Attala Historical Society and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
For more information call 601-576-6940 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out photos of the National Park Service’s latest preservation treatment of the U.S.S. Cairo on their Facebook page.
Dr. Terry Amburgey and Dr. Shane Kitchens with Wood Protection Specialists, LLC from Sturgis, MS and their crew are spraying a Borate Solution which consists of Tim-Bor Wood Preservative on the U.S.S. Cairo. This is a non-toxic mixture that over time builds up in the wood to strengthen and stabilize the wood in order to preserve and protect the original material. Each treatment is another layer of protection that works inside of the historic wooden fabric as-well-as the glu-laminated support structure.
Speaking of maintenance, Jefferson College near Natchez is getting a much-needed roofing project on several of the oldest buildings, as seen on the Historic Jefferson College Facebook page. According to HJC:
Big things happening out here on the campus–we got a $500,000 emergency repair grant from MDAH, and have started working on roofs! Next up–gutters, drainage, and wood rot. These pictures show the slate roof of the East Wing (1819) being removed. Don’t worry, it will be replaced with more slate!
And finally, according to the Clarion-Ledger, “Historic Preservation has a new toolkit.”
Mississippi preservationists will soon have a toolkit to help guide them on a path that, before, looked more like a freefall in rose-colored glasses for some.
The $150,000 that Mississippi Heritage Trust is receiving from the state, through the archives and history department, “is huge” for the nonprofit, MHT executive director Lolly Barnes said. MHT hopes to hire an additional staffer this summer and have public components online and in print by this fall to help save and renew places with a stake in Mississippians’ lives, communities and history.
Lolly Barnes, MHT’s executive director says that the toolkit will help local preservationists understand all the ways available to them to help save their historic buildings and neighborhoods. That way, says Myrna Smith-Thompson of Mound Bayou, “we’re not running around like chickens with our heads cut off” when we make the leap to save a building.
Stay tuned for more on the Preservation Toolkit!