I was searching for something else last night but got sidetracked somehow and ended up on the wikipedia page that lists all of the National Register entries for Mississippi. I’ve seen this page many times before, but this time my eye was drawn to the map of the listings by county, uploaded by user 25or6to4 in 2009. Even though it appears the map hasn’t been updated since then (although the list on the same page has been updated through Dec. 2, 2016), it’s still a useful visual tool to assess the distribution of listings throughout the state.
The map tracks pretty well what we know about the historical development of the state after European settlement, with the highest number in Adams county (118) where Natchez is, Warren (71), Hinds (101), the Coast counties, Lauderdale (Meridian), a strong pocket in the Prairie region around Columbus and Aberdeen, and another around Oxford and Holly Springs.
The good news is that all of Mississippi’s counties have at least one entry, but there are several that have only achieved that number. Often, these are archaeological or Civil War battlefield sites, as with Benton’s Davis’ Mills Battle Site or George’s Bilbo Basin Shell Deposit Site.
- Pearl River (this has a 1 on the map, but The Hermitage in Picayune was listed in 2016)
- Prentiss (one of these listings is the Downtown Booneville Historic District, which contains 47 buildings)
- Webster (one of these listings is for the Eupora Historic District, which contains 259 buildings)
- Yalobusha (would have four listings, but two of the buildings have been destroyed and have been de-listed from the National Register)
Wikipedia says Mississippi’s total currently stands at 1,378 properties listed on the National Register. As you can see from some of my notes above, the way the National Register counts listings can seem to skew the results, because they count a historic district containing sometimes hundreds of buildings as one entry, the same as a single building. For instance, the largest historic district in the state, Jackson’s Belhaven Historic District contains 1538 buildings, but the district counts as one entry on the National Register. But wait! It gets more complex than that. Within the Belhaven Historic District, 1306 resources are considered “contributing” to the district’s historic and architectural integrity and each of those buildings are therefore listed on the National Register. Meanwhile, the remaining 232 are considered “non-contributing” because they aren’t old enough or have been altered too much, and those are technically not listed on the National Register, even though they are located within the Belhaven Historic District boundary. If you want to get even further into the weeds, you can read the Belhaven Historic District nomination, which clocks in at 307 pages plus photos. It’s actually an interesting read starting around p.275 when it gets into the historical development of the neighborhood.
Bottom line: if you want to find out if any one particular building, whether it is your home, or school, or church, or courthouse, is listed on the National Register, don’t go to wikipedia or even to the National Register’s official website. Go to the MDAH Historic Resources Database, click Properties, and then put in the name and address of the building you need.
Well, this post didn’t start out to be a lecture on the minutiae of the National Register, but actually, it may set the stage for our annual list of this year’s entries, which is coming up later this month.
Categories: National Register