Another One Bites the Dust

Demolition of this city-owned building began Saturday morning. Because government works 24/7.

Demolition of this city-owned building began with no warning on Saturday morning. Because in Moss Point, government works 24/7.

It’s not suspicious at all when a backhoe appears on a Saturday morning behind a historic city-owned building that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been the subject of intense local debate, has been included on the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered List, and has not received any permits for demolition. This was what happened in Moss Point on Saturday, and the scene was caught on camera by an interested citizen. Sure enough, by 5:00, the old Moss Point City Hall and Water Works was rubble on the ground, according to a citizen’s post on the MDAH Historic Preservation Division Facebook page.

Hisonor Mayor Billy Broomfield, who has reportedly banned historic preservation commission members from entering city hall in response to their vote to make the building a local landmark in 2013, has not returned phone calls according to WLOX, the only local media to cover the demolition story so far. Aldermen say they didn’t know about it. Maybe the backhoe just accidentally knocked it down? Maybe the backhoe operator thought he was at a different address? Whoopsie!

In her 2013 post “Don’t Turn On the Water Works for Moss Point Just Yet,” Lolly Barnes pointed out that the City had a non-profit occupant willing to put $100,000 into a restoration and another $91,000 in potential funding from FEMA. Nevertheless, city leadership persisted in wanting the building demolished.

It’s been a bad summer: this is the second building that had been included on the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered List to become a victim in the last month (in case you forgot about Mt. Holly). Many dedicated preservationists in Moss Point worked hard and against vindictive and undemocratic political retribution to save this building. They deserve commendation, and The Powers That Be, The Powers That Have Gotten Too Big For Their Britches, The Powers That Forget They Were Elected By Citizens, deserve shame, condemnation, and maybe legal action.

UPDATE: In a late story last night, WLOX reported that hisoner had this to say:

“It was not on the Mississippi Historical Register. I am told it was in an historic district.  It was a city hall, a library, a jail and after that is was a fire station,” said Mayor Broomfield.

The Mayor also pointed that the board of aldermen gave him the green light two years ago to knock it down, but  plans were put on hold due to lack of funding.

“We are no longer in the red, we are in the black and we were able to find enough  money to tear the building down without having to go through a bid process, which is under $50,000, so we don’t have to do that.”

Although the demolition may not have been the most popular move in some folk’s eyes, the mayor claims the building was a safety hazard.

Although the building was not on the “Mississippi Historical Register” (there is no such thing–I assume he’s referring to the Mississippi Landmark designation), it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is, you know, a NATIONAL register. And congrats on getting around the bid process!



Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Moss Point

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9 replies

  1. Admirably indignant, E.L. I’m sure you will be banned from Moss Point Town Hall, too, if you haven’t been already.

    Perhaps a prominently placed plaque advising who the mayor was who demolished the building to replace the plaque that said who the mayor was who built it would be money well spent. As well as a little jail time for those who broke the law in demolishing it?

    At least in this respect Mississippi is not behind the rest of the country: Nothing matters but profit. NOTHING.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Way to go EL. I enjoy your news from far off Evanston II even when it is as disappointing as this.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cool building. Why didn’t someone buy it and fix it up?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great reporting!!! Horrible and sad. Does anyone know what the land is going to be used for now? I hope the cornerstone was saved?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We are seeing this in Tucson, AZ where I live as well. We have a couple of main streets that are being widened, which is a good thing due to the flow of traffic into downtown, so I get it. But even though we have it in the building code that a survey must be done before demolition, I see very little of that being done. Given that that is what I do for a living, it’d be nice to get a heads up from someone in my circle of architects and preservation folks BEFORE it comes down. I would get it down on paper even if I wasn’t being paid for it because it needs to be done. I was able to salvage some pieces of subway tile from a neat old gas station that was bulldozed when I was taking pictures of the building next door soon to go. Thanks for the great reporting and the FIGHT! Love your enthusiasm! I can’t believe the mayor can actually ban the preservation folks from being there, there’s got to be a legal problem with that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry to hear about that. Gosh widening street doesn’t always aid traffic flow. With all the buildings gone would anyone would be going down there anyways?

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      • The downtown buildings aren’t in that much peril, its the ones on the streets leading to downtown, a mix of 1930’s-1960’s residential, old red brick storefronts that are not deemed “historic”, old gas stations with their own sense of structure. The widening is necessary as the city has grown and the main arteries are 4 lane (2 on each side), 35 mph roads which can make for a tough commute. My concern is just what happened to the MS building, not enough voices being heard, people who want to put the money in to rehabbing being turned away, or in the case where a building must go for expansion, a proper recording not being made. That’s why I’m now taking it upon myself to conduct a survey even if the city doesn’t think it should be a requirement. We MUST have a record of our city and how its changing over time.

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  6. I am so glad to see you telling this travesty. Billy Brumfield left state rep position to come home and make Moss Point his little kingdom. He first got rid of the best police chief in many years (who was immediately hired by Marine Resources) . He constantly bypasses the aldermen and threatens anyone’s job who disagrees with him. I do not live in Moss Point but am from Jackson Co. and had hoped someone would save this piece of the past. I am not surprised he got it done by any means. He totally lied I think. I have learned so much, enjoyed pictures, articles, etc. since I joined this terrific site. I thought immediately of what you all would say. :) Thanks for speaking up. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

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