Once again, the News Roundup will start in the southwest part of the state, in Natchez. “Tour opens possibilities downtown” states that the Possibilities Tour (which I reported on in the first News Roundup of the year) brought various interested people into downtown Natchez to tour vacant commercial properties. The tour theme was “Turning Deserted Spaces into Dynamic Places” and focused on helping to bring new businesses to downtown, with an emphasis on businesses in the creative economy.
There is some bad news out of Enterprise in the article, “Fire destroys Enterprise church.” Enterprise United Methodist Church was completely destroyed in an early Tuesday morning fire. The church was located at the corner of Bridge Street and River Road, across the street from the Dearman House, which also burned down several years ago. It was also just a block away from the bypassed Chickasawhay River Bridge (Enterprise Bridge), a double Warren polygonal pony truss bridge near where the Chickasawhay River is formed by the confluence of Okatibbee Creek and the Chunky River. The church was constructed in the 1930s with various additions in the 1960s. It was a Mississippi country interpretation of the classic side entrance English parish church, with round arched stained glass windows and brick substituted for Gothic lancet windows and stone.
Also from that part of the state, the Chunky River Bridge (also called the Griffis-Fountain Road Bridge), best known to local residents as the “Old Rattling Bridge” was closed by the Office of State Aid of Road Construction (OSARC) on November 20 according to The Meridian Star, in the article “’Old Rattling Bridge’ in Chunky closed.” Newton County District 5 Supervisor Jimmy Johnson said that OSARC “[I]nspected the bridge and said it had loose braces on it; but they have been loose on it for about 30 years. I reworked the bridge last year, and we just had an inspection. I think it is more sound than it has been in years.” The county previously was unable to get funds to either replace or repair the bridge due to the low amount of traffic that utilizes it. Thankfully, it appears the Newton County Board of Supervisors wishes to preserve the bridge, based on what was reported of their January meeting, “In Newton County: Two bridges to reopen, one closed.” County Engineer Duane Stanford gave his opinion that the bridge can be repaired, stating that, “It is fixable, but when the inspector sees something critical, they request it be closed, as a precaution. They saw the bridge had some tension members that are wearing down, and need to be replaced.” The Chunky River Bridge is a rare surviving one-lane, single-span Pratt through-truss bridge. This type of bridge was formerly very common in rural Mississippi but by 1986, only thirty-five were left in the state, with eleven of those demolished and six more abandoned by 2002. Constructed in 1911, by the Nashville Bridge Company of Nashville, the Chunky River Bridge is, according to the National Register nomination form, “one of the most intact surviving examples in Mississippi of a one-lane Pratt through truss bridge.” For now, however, the bridge is closed with no timetable for repairs.
The Oxford Eagle article “Value of properties seeking permits has tripled thanks to BMH” gives some great statistics on how Oxford is growing and changing at an ever more rapid rate. In 2015, 2,848 permits were issued for new residential and commercial construction, up 21 percent from 2,340 permits in 2014 with the property value for those permits tripling from $98,592,026 to $306,881,880 (increasing “only” to $140,881,880 last year, up 43 percent if Baptist Memorial Hospital construction is excluded). 148 single-family home permits were pulled in 2015, up from 127 in 2014 with property value increasing to $29 million from $23 million in 2014. While condominiums and townhouses saw fewer permits, apartments and duplexes jumped from 44 permits in 2014 to 203 in 2015. Oxford also, very crucially for preservation efforts, saw home demolition permits increase from 16 issued in 2014 to 22 in 2015. It is not like teardowns are a brand new issue for Oxford, Preservation in Mississippi has covered this problem before, notably in the Oxfordtown, Oxfordtown . . . post but any increase in demolitions in such a historic town is very worrying. Frankly, with anything less than a decrease in such demolitions, it is unlikely Oxford will be a historic town for much longer.
“From police dept. to museum, a look at 101 N. Main” from the Picayune Item is a nice look at the history of an unassuming building in downtown Poplarville. Constructed in 1948, it has housed over the years various city functions, beginning with the fire department and expanding to the police department and city clerk’s office. After those agencies moved to a building on the highway, away from downtown, in the 1990s, the building became the Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce. Now, it is also, more prominently, home to the Poplarville Historical Preservation Society Museum. Currently the city is trying to repair termite damage that led to the building’s condemnation.
Finally, work is occurring in Greenville to renovate the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot [C&G Railroad Depot] according to two articles from the Delta Democrat-Times “Gear’s Construction awarded bid for Yazoo railroad depot” and “Work could soon begin on old railroad depot, future home of WCEA.” The building is being renovated to house the Washington County Economic Alliance with work beginning sometime in February. The articles are behind a paywall. In fact, nearly every newspaper in the Delta is behind full paywalls, so I would like to send out an appeal to any MissPres readers who have subscriptions to the Delta Democrat-Times, The Greenwood Commonwealth, The Yazoo Herald, or any other newspapers completely behind paywalls, to send Preservation in Mississippi any preservation-related stories. That way, the News Roundups can be more comprehensive and not just include news from Natchez and Meridian.
And that was the news.