Let’s get caught up on preservation events around the Magnolia State. . .
Over in Meridian, WTOK’s headline is “Interior demolition to begin soon on Threefoot Building.” As you recall, Meridian’s Art Deco office skyscraper, buit in 1929, has been sitting vacant for some time but it was announced last year that it will be converted to a Courtyard Marriott. According to the article, the new owner, John Tampa, has filed a request for a permit for interior demolition.
Community Development Director Bunky Partridge says not to panic when you hear “demolition.” That just means they’ll be able to do more work inside the building.
“The demolition is you might need to tear some walls out to make one of the rooms a little bit bigger, you might need to move a door here or there, but we have to have the historical society people knowing what’s going on. They have to give us permission to do that.
MDAH announced that two historic districts and one individual property have been added to the National Register. These include Gulf Gardens Historic District in Gulfport, a subdivision developed from the 1920s through the 1950s; the Quitman-Downtown-Mill Historic District in Quitman; and The Hermitage estate in Picayune, associated with the Rowland and Crosby families that had major lumbering and industrial interests in Pearl River County.
The Mississippi Capitol, newly designated as a National Historic Landmark, will soon be partially encased in scaffolding again. According to the AP, a new phase of work in a multi-phase renovation project that has been going on since 2013 or so, will involve repair and replacement of terra cotta in the main dome.
Laura Jackson, director of the state Department of Finance and Administration, says this is a continuation of the $7.4 million exterior work that began two years ago.
Crews will repair and replace terra cotta pieces that have deteriorated around the base of the dome. Roofing will also be replaced on that part of the building. This work is expected to take about a year, and the building will remain open to the public. . . .
This multi-year restoration, including the work on the dome, is being led by the Jackson-based firm WFT Architects.
In an odd coincidence, just after my recent post about the wonderfully Modernist Natchez High School came the Natchez Democrat article “Natchez-Adams School District board hears proposal from architectural firm” telling of some potential changes in the future for the campus. The architecture firm M3A of Jackson came to talk to the school board about their ideas for a new high school campus.
In Jackson, M3A designed Blackburn Middle School and Henry Kirksey Middle School. Both are two-story schools designed for 650 students.
. . .
The NASD Board of Trustees verbally committed to building a new high school in August providing funding could be obtained. The board has also toured different, newly constructed school facilities.
The project cost of a new high school is $42 million, but representatives with the board’s consulting firm, Volker, Inc., have states some costs could be trimmed from that estimate.
[Supt. Fred] Butcher has said he would like to see the district build a new high school in the beanfield next door to the current school. Following completion of the new school, the next option would be to renovate Natchez High School.
Finally, good news about ongoing renovation projects in downtown Greenville, which has suffered from neglect and vacancy in many storefronts. The Mississippi Business Journal checks in on several projects on Washington Avenue in its article “The Lofts at 517 giving people reasons to come to downtown Greenville.” The biggest building involved in the renovation work so far is the Art Moderne Sears building, but adjoining buildings are also part of the project, which will house the Delta’s first microbrewery Mighty Miss Brewing Co., along with a restaurant and loft apartments.
The $9.1-million downtown redevelopment project has been underway now for five years. [Bill] Boykin said it is rewarding to now be at the phase where the restoration inside has advanced to the Sheetrock stage. The project is being credited for stimulating more downtown properties being sold.
“Since we started in January, nine other pieces of property on Washington Ave. have sold,” Boykin said. “That is awesome. The interesting thing about it is people are not just buying, but reinvesting. That’s what we wanted.”
. . . .
“People thought I was crazy in the beginning, but somebody had to do it,” Boykin said. “Every community has to stand up and take a chance. I love the community. It is where I was born and raised. I want to do what I can to give back.”
Boykin said the project couldn’t have happened without the support of Guaranty Bank and Trust, new market tax credits and historical tax credits.
“Mississippi has a fantastic historical tax credit program,” he said.
Compare this March 2013 image from Google maps with the photo on the Mississippi Business Journal to see the transformation on the Sears building–what a difference windows make!