MissPres News Roundup 5-18-2015

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.

Program Schedule

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 info@mdah.state.ms.us.


Check out photos of the National Park Service’s latest preservation treatment of the U.S.S. Cairo on their Facebook page.

USS CairoDr. 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.


Jefferson College roofSpeaking 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!

Categories: Kosciusko, MDAH, National Park Service, Tupelo, Vicksburg


5 replies

  1. Great news on all accounts! The Tupelo Homestead houses are located on Hwy 45 that runs behind
    The Natchez Trace visitor center. An exit off The Trace at the North end of the visitor center ends directly across from these houses sitting in the woods that front Hwy 45. We lived within walking distance of the visitor center for the past 11 years. I used to walk to the visitor center to the end of the exit and I could see the charming vacant little cottages through the trees. It looked like to me that most of them sat vacant the 11 years we were there. Hope they will be restored and used again.


  2. Apparently the Mayor Of Crawford, Fred Tolon, is ignoring the requirement that public lands MUST go through the MDAH protocols via the Letter of Intent before conveying title to private ownership. Posted on the Crawford Town Hall door this morning is a request for bids for the sale of the 1.9 acre site on which the 1800s M&O RR section House is built. Bid opening date is 6July2015.
    By happenstance, I received word that Wells Fargo had deeded two parcels of land to the Town of Crawford back in January, one of which is the section house and the 1.9 acres.. I also received information that the Mayor had already concluded a “done deal” with the Lapeyrouse Grain Company to convey the property to the corporation for “something of equal value.” In response, I addressed the board at its May meeting and informed Mayor Tolon that certain protocols must be met, including a Letter of Intent to the MDAH determine if the section house was a Mississippi Landmark. At that meeting, a reporter for the Commercial-Dispatch and the Crawford board attorney, Coleen Hudson, were present. Ms. Hudson is an associate of the Sims & Sims Law firm of Columbus. Other notable figures of that firm are her father, Tim Hudson, and Mississippi House of Representative Jeffrey Smith. Mayor Tolon denied that it was a “done deal,” and instructed his secretary, Beverley Hairston, to list the land for sale through classified ads.
    Ms. Hudson sat there and said nothing. Sensing that the mayor was going to ignore the Letter of Intent, I downloaded the form and filled it out , sending it via USPS with signature confirmation. The USPS tracking number(9114 9012 3080 3109 7642 55) reveals zilch!
    I appeared before the board again at its June meetin–Ms. Hudson was not present–and informed the Mayor that I had submitted a Letter of Intent. I placed a two page blank form on the table for his inspection and pushed it to him. Neither he nor any board member, even bothered to look at the form. His only comment was , “it’s time to move on.”
    I then filed a complaint with the State Auditors office and met with a special agent last Friday. The SA also met with the Mayor that day. I called the SA’s office this morning and he said that the mayor was going ahead with the sale, but that he would check with Ms. Hudson for the green light to proceed.. I know that he is not liberty to give details.
    Bottom line: Is there some legal ” wiggle room” that Ms. Hudson is aware of that will permit Mayor Colon to disregard State Law? The rumor is that Lapeyrouse intends to demolish the house upon taking title.

    Thomas Gentry
    P.O. Box 147
    Crawford, Mississippi, 39743

    1916 Post Card of M&O RR section house in Crawford



    • There is no “wiggle room” around the state Antiquities Law that I’m aware of. Has MDAH received the Letter of Intent? Typically, they will follow up with a letter to the city noting that “it has come to our attention” that you are proposing to sell this property and you are required to do such and such.


      • I e-mailed Ms. Anderson to see if she has received the Letter of Intent. I am away from the Crawford post office, so I have no way of knowing if there is a signature confirmation in my mail box.
        I mailed the Letter of Intent to:

        Mississippi Landmark Coordinator MDAH
        Mississippi Historic Preservation Division
        P.O. Box 571
        Jackson, MS 39205-0571

        Is Newman now working at the mail department of MDAH?

        Thomas Gentry


  3. That should read Mayo Tolon, not Colon. I miss the edit feature.


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