Due to an unexpected power outage this weekend, just as I was beginning to think about putting together an overdue news roundup, this roundup is filling Suzassippi’s usual Tuesday slot.
Following up on last month’s exciting announcement about a new plan and developer for Meridian’s Threefoot Building, the Meridian Star reports that the Meridian City Council has approved a final agreement for the sale of the 16-story Art Deco skyscraper.
Hotel developer John Tampa of Ascent Hospitality Management, LCC out of Buford, Ga., will buy the historic building, built in 1929, for $10,000, according to the agreement.
Tampa plans to renovate the building and convert it into a Courtyard by Marriott hotel. The contract specifies Tampa must start the renovation within the next 12 months, provided he gets the plans approved by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
. . .
[Meridian Mayor Percy] Bland said he thinks Tampa could have the Threefoot hotel ready by November of 2017, which is the expected completion date for the construction of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, a $50 million facility that will be dedicated to honoring the state’s musicians, actors, authors and artists.
Speaking of Meridian, the annual Soule Live Steam festival, sponsored by the Mississippi Industrial Museum, is on the calendar for Novemer 6-7, 2015. If you’ve ever wanted to see a real working steam engine, the kind that drove the Industrial Revolution and trains until the mid-20th century, this is your chance.
The museum’s steam engine collection is impressive. The Steam Engine Demonstration Room features a 1905 Watts-Campbell Corliss steam engine that operates so smoothly a nickel can balance on edge! An 1870 Manchester portable steam engine was purchased by Henry Ford in the 1930s for the Edison Institute collection (now the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan). A Soulé Spee-d-twin Steam Engine and Soulé Rotary Steam Engine are also on display and in operation.
The Soulé Steam Feed Works factory machine shop boasts the longest operating line drive shaft in the United States. This 106′ shaft is operated by a large electric motor and powers belt-driven lathes and drill presses. During the festival Industrial Technology students from Meridian Community College demonstrate the antique equipment in the machine shop. The indoor blacksmith shop is used during the festival and at other times throughout the year.
WLBT reports that “Proposed legislation would add Medgar Evers’ home to National Park System.”
U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker have introduced legislation to explore whether the home of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers should be designated a National Park Service unit.
The legislation would authorize a special resource study to evaluate the national significance of the Medgar Evers home in Jackson and determine the suitability and feasibility of designating it as a unit of the National Park System.
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The legislation is supported by Tougaloo College, which acquired the Evers home in 1993 and designated it as a museum in 1997. The site is a designated Mississippi landmark under the State Antiquit[ies] Law and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The measure, which is a companion measure to legislation introduced in the House by Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), would also stipulate that the study should consider alternatives for preserving, protecting and interpreting the site by federal, state, or local governments, or private entities and organizations.
Transition is a visual theme and literal undercurrent in an exhibition that, Thursday night, was topped by the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi for 2015. It’s the 10th such list since 1999 for the preservation advocacy nonprofit, and the stories of 100 places — lost, saved, in progress, no progress and newly listed — are covered there, and at www.ms10most.com.
The Lowry House, documented to the 1870s, is itself a 10 Most alum, making the list in 2005 when it sat in the path of Baptist Medical Center’s parking lot expansion; MHT worked with Baptist to move it to the current site, the house and new lot donated by the hospital. Now it’s a living example of preservation in action, and the often slow-going nature of such saves and rehabs.
The Mississippi Business Journal has an excellent article explaining the state’s historic preservation tax credits in concrete ways that show how detrimental not having it has been this year. According to “State’s historic preservation office to ask for $60 million in new tax credits,” at least five large projects in Jackson–Calvary Baptist Church, Edison Walthall Hotel, Regions Bank, Lamar Life building, and the former Eastland Federal Courthouse–have stopped because of the legislature’s failure to raise the $60 million cap on the tax credit. With the credit, developers of large historic properties and even residents of historic houses are able to subtract 25% of the cost of their renovation project from their state taxes and to spread the credit out over a period of years if they pay less in taxes than the credit is worth.
The Department of Archives and History does not have a lobbyist but its quest for renewal of the tax credit program has an important ally in Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn of Clinton. Gunn said he sees the credits as an investment in the state’s economy as well as in preserving its past.
“It’s such a good deal. So many of our towns depend on it for economic development. We get such a good return on our investment,” he said.
In construction spending alone, the slightly less than $60 million the state has invested in historic preservation tax credits since 2007 have generated more than a quarter billion dollars, according to an impact study Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government prepared at Gunn’s request.
Odds are, if you live in a town with a historic district, some of your neighbors have been able to maintain or even bring back to life (and the tax rolls) a historic building using the state tax credit. It’s a big deal.
Don’t forget about this weekend’s special Open House Preview of one of the Delta’s few remaining antebellum mansions, the recently restored Belmont Plantation, located on Highway 1, south of Greenville. According to the Facebook page:
The gates will open at 1030am with house access starting at 11am. We are located at Highway 1 and 438, on the northeast corner.
You can RSVP by yes to “join” this evite, or you can send us an email directly if there will be more members of your party attending who are not on Facebook; firstname.lastname@example.org
Please RSVP or click ‘join’ so we can have an accurate count of how many folks to expect and how much staff we will need throughout the day!
Donations to help further our restoration work will be accepted at the property (cash, check, or credit card) and access to the house will be on a first-come, first-served basis. We will provide restroom facilities throughout the day.
You may also be interested in the Tupelo tour sponsored by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art–Southeast Chapter on November 20. “Spain House to the New Deal: Tupelo’s 20th Century Landmarks” includes visits to the Depression-era Tupelo Homesteads, Overstreet & Town’s Church Street Elementary School, and the recently moved and still-under-construction Spain House.
Categories: African American History, Civil Rights, Delta, Historic Preservation, Jackson, MDAH, Meridian, Mississippi Heritage Trust, MS Dept. of Archives and History, National Park Service, News Roundups, Preservation Education, Preservation People/Events, Tupelo