Lets jump right in, feet first to this week’s roundup.
The big news this past week was in the City of Clinton where a property owner faces more than 1,400 code violations to historic buildings. The city is pulling no punches when it came to not letting an absentee owner destroy their town. Matt Wiggins of Kemah, Texas owns 8 buildings in historic Olde Towne Clinton. He recently pleaded guilty to more than one thousand misdemeanor charges of multiple code violations. You might remember Mr. Wiggins as the owner of Mt. Holly in Lake Washington, which despite pleas of the local residents and many other interested parties, and even serious offers to buy the structure, he left abandoned and deteriorating until it was reduced to a brick shell after a mysterious fire in June 2015. The preservation quote of the week just might come from Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher who stated, “the city will make every effort to protect the integrity of our City’s history and structures. This administration has pursued the upkeep of neighborhoods and businesses to protect property values.” Well said, Mr. Mayor! Mississippi could benefit a lot from more public officials with your understanding. While initially Wiggins plead not guilty, he was well aware of the evidence stacked against him and struck a plea deal. According to the City’s press release as quoted on Jackson Jambalaya:
“Wiggins is required to bring all properties up to code within 120 days or stand in contempt of court.
Should Wiggins fail to fulfill the requirements of the deal, Wiggins will be responsible for all accrued fines that could be over $400,000 by the late May 2017 completion deadline. In addition, Wiggins has waived extradition, with the understanding, that should he be in contempt of any plea provisions, he could be arrested and brought from Texas to Mississippi to face criminal charges as well as contempt of court charges. Contempt of court carries up to a $1000 fine and 180 days in jail per charge.
Provision was made in the plea agreement that allows Wiggins to sell the property, within specific parameters. Wiggins is prohibited from selling to any business or company he may own or have a vested interest in.”
MissPres-ers, I can guarantee you this will be a story we will follow-up on.
More good news out of Clinton is that the restoration of the Clock Tower at Mississippi College is complete. The clock tower on the Nelson Administration Building, built in 1948, had been damaged after a lighting strike last summer. The restoration work began back in October.
In Hattiesburg, William Carey University has begun following through on their commitment to demolish the oldest buildings on campus. So far the Lucile Parker Gallery/Tuscan Avenue apartments were removed as of last week.
Lucile Parker Gallery/Tuscan Avenue apartments were built between 1926 and 1930, as a post office and apartments, both likely catering to what was back then the Mississippi Women’s College. Ross and Johnson Halls and Tatum Court are also slated for demolition by the University. I have seen images of these buildings and while significantly damaged they appear nowhere near beyond repair. We can hope wiser heads can prevail but I’m not holding out much hope. Especially after this chestnut of a quote from WCU Provost Dr. Scott Hummel. After discussing the demolition for the Hattiesburg campus buildings he states, “We don’t want to lose that connection to our past, our heritage, our tradition. So we’re going to be able to maintain that and yet move forward.” The surest way to maintain a connection with your past, heritage and tradition is to not demolish your historic buildings Dr. Hummel. Just to clarify: Demolition ≠ Preservation. Demolishing a building just so you can use the bricks is the architectural equivalent of having Grandma whacked so you can wear her jewelry.
In other Hattiesburg news, Forrest County should receive a well-deserved pat on the back as Forrest County’s buildings received good marks from a grand jury. The grand jury convened to review the condition of County courts, offices, schools and the jail, of which many are historic buildings. David Hogan, president of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors is quoted in the article saying, “I feel that we have a duty to take care of those buildings to the best of our ability, and I believe that this report shows that we’re doing just that.”
The Sun Herald followed up on the Markham Hotel Gulfport with an article relating the public concern over the historic Markham building’s being unsecured. You may remember my concern outlined in last week’s round-up that the building is not properly mothballed, which will only add to the expense of its restoration. This all leads me to believe the property’s restoration is not a priority for the owners.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on plans for a demolition in downtown Columbus. The building located at 111 South 9th Street has been proposed to be demolished for a parking lot. It might not look like much but this mid-century building hasn’t been done any favors with its renovations over the years. And you’ll be hard pressed to find me supporting the demolition of any structure for a parking lot. This will be one less tax paying business in the City of Columbus. http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=56140 …
Two events we had the pleasure of sharing last week are the advertisement for bid on two depot projects. The Durant Historic Preservation Commission is looking for interested & talented contractors to bid on the Exterior and Interior renovation/restoration work for the c.1909 Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Depot. This will include, but not be limited to; roof work, limited masonry and wood framing stabilization work, new mechanical and electrical systems, interior finishes, window and door restoration. Legal advertisements will run in the Clarion Ledger Feb. 9 and Feb. 16. A pre-bid meeting will be held on March 2nd. Here is the link to the Clarion Ledger notice.
The other project advertised is the 1907 Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Depot in Vicksburg. According to architect Belinda Stewart’s website a pre-bid meeting concerning Stabilization & Restoration work to the depot is scheduled for Monday February 13, 2017 with bids being due on March 6, 2017. This work will include exterior restoration that includes, but is not limited to painting, window restoration, cupola restoration, masonry restoration work, ADA entry upgrades, elevator upgrade, and limited interior finish work including plaster and wood trim repairs and painting.
The History News Network ran a piece titled “How is Emmett Till Remembered?” The article expresses concern over the continued demolition by neglect of the Bryant Grocery building and the restoration of the nearby Ben Roy Service Station both in Money. I believe you’ll find lots of folks that will support the restoration project if the owner is willing. As Susassippi commented on this post about the Ben Roy Service Station and the Bryant’s Grocery back in 2015: “From what I have understood about it from my colleagues, it was not that no one thought to do it, rather the owners of the building did not want to do it.” Our best hope for the building’s restoration is that a willing owner comes along before it is too late.
The Desoto Times reported on a Brownfields Conference held in Hernando with the mouthful title: International Conference of Shopping Centers Mississippi P3 Regional Program and Governmental Relations. This statewide conference theme was infill redevelopment to existing downtowns. Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson was quoted as saying, “If we can get that building environmentally assessed and cleaned up and occupied as a functioning business, then it’s contributing to the tax base, providing jobs and services, and that’s good for the city and the community.” A positive aspect of in-fill, is that it’s a cost-effective means of economic growth where there’s just “an empty hole. The street in front of that building is already there with traffic, there’s already sewer and water service and .electricity, there’s police driving by and fire protection, so it just makes good sense,”
Last year, Hernando was selected to receive its second $400,000 Brownfields Assessment grant from the EPA, aimed at recycling vacant and abandoned properties for new, productive re-uses. The city received its first such grant about five years ago, with the Reliable Equipment property among the Brownfields sites assessed.
The City of Oxford has decided to demolish the old fire station on North Lamar Boulevard http://www.oxfordeagle.com/2017/02/03/old-fire-station-on-north-lamar-in-oxford-should-be-gone-soon/
The L.A. Times ran an interesting piece titles “Oops! How you might be ruining an architecturally significant home.” While the article goes more into depth, the Cliffsnotes version of signs that you might be ruining an architecturally significant home are:
- Switching out the windows
- Modifying a home’s facade
- Doubling the square feet
- Choosing questionable surfaces and materials
Great advice whether you are in L.A., or Lafayette County, or anywhere else.
The MDAH Permit Committee met on February 9th. This monthly meeting reviews changes to Mississippi Landmark properties and recommends new ML designations.
Lastly some news of our own. Last week Preservation in Mississippi celebrated our eighth birthday. In the same way we have noted the occasion in the past, Malvaney shared a tale of the Old Capitol, this time as a series on the 1916-1917 Old Capitol restoration.
- MissPres at 8: Repairing the Old Capitol, 1916-1917
- MissPres at 8: It seems to have been generally accepted that the old capitol could not be restored.
- MissPres at 8: Spiral staircases and magnificent timbers
- MissPres at 8: Oh Bilbo, where are our columns?
If you missed these posts last week, they are definitely worth the read.
I think Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher wins the award for the Preservation quote of the week, with Mr. David Hogan, president of the Forrest County Board of Supervisors coming in a close second. What do you think?
Like always I am sure I probably missed some stories, so if you know of any preservation-related news items not mentioned, or if you have more information about a story above please let us know in the comments below.
Categories: Columbus, Courthouses, Demolition/Abandonment, Disasters, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Historic Preservation, Jails, News Roundups, Preservation Education, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Preservation People/Events, Recent Past, Renovation Projects, Schools, Universities/Colleges