MissPres News Roundup 8-22-2017

Busy week in the world of Mississippi Preservation.  Let’s jump right into this week’s roundup.

Last Tuesday a  public meeting in Hattiesburg was held to determine a course of action for the former Mount Carmel Baptist Church on Main Street.  According to a poll of 33 attendees at the Hattiesburg City Council public hearing, 81% are in favor of stabilizing Mount Carmel Baptist Church

At the end of July, the city council voted in favor of receiving quotes for the cost of demolition of the Mount Carmel Baptist church. The requested bids cannot be opened until the end of August.

“We’re just gathering thoughts and information on what people would like to see happen,” Council President Carter Carroll said. “We’re waiting to see what bids are going to come back in, as far as demolition.




(old) Hattiesburg High School

Better news out of Hattiesburg is that the Old Hattiesburg High School is one step closer to being converted into apartments.  Low-income housing credits were awarded to the project from the Mississippi Home Corporation, knocking out the first step in the project and paving the way for a hoped-for spring construction start on the $10 million project.


In Port Gibson, after being rained out on the first attempt, the First Presbyterian Church successfully reinstalled the Hand Pointing to Heaven atop their steeple last Wednesday morning in front of a crowd of about 100 people.  The event was covered worldwide as seen in this Germany news paper article. Congratulations!


In McComb, the city is suing the owner and insurer of the collapsed downtown Jacob’s theater building.  The suit alleges that prior to the collapse, the owner received notice that an unsafe amount of water was accumulating on the roof of the building, that the roof’s support structure was in danger, and no effort was made to drain the very large amount of water standing on the roof of the building. The suit charges negligence and public nuisance.


In Jackson, the New Capitol is having original flooring restored in some areas.  The northern entrance to the building remains closed for the repairs and renovations of the North Terrace.


Other news from Jackson is the announced plan to tear down two homes in Belhaven.  The demolition plans for 1609 St. Ann Street and 1925 Laurel Street are on hold for now since the homes are located in the locally designated Belhaven Historic District.  Any proposed exterior work will go before the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.


In Jackson, this Saturday, August 26, 2017, there will be a Cleanup of the Mississippi River Basin Model from 8am–12pm at Buddy Butts Park, 6180 McRaven Road in Jackson. There are tasks for all ages & abilities.


This Dispatch file photo from February, shows a Habitat for Humanity project to extract old timbers from a house being demolished on Seventh Street South in Columbus for resale. Local business Mississippi Reclaimed, a resale shop for salvaged building materials, purchased some of the project’s materials from Habitat. Photo by: Dispatch file photo

In Columbus, we have a story about dismantling a historic place to sell for parts.  Not a damaged or deteriorated house, just one that was judged by the owner to be worth more for parts than as a whole.  An illegal version of this was seen earlier this year at the Shaifer House outside of Port Gibson.  While this story covers completely legal work, what are the ethics of dismantling a historic place? Are our historic places worth more parceled out?  The article has the phrase “Reclaiming the Past” as part of the headline, but wouldn’t have restoring the house been a better way to reclaim the past? One of the earliest mottoes of Preservation in Mississippi is “Demolition ≠ Preservation.”


Do you remember the Motel in Tupelo that the city demolished?  Turns out the City didn’t have the $400,000+ to pay for it.  So now the city’s significant lien – $419,229 in total – may make it tough to turn the land back into productive private ownership. Seems like that money could have gone a long way if it was put back into making the building attractive to a potential purchaser, rather than just creating a hole in the ground.


East elevation view Spain House in new location Jan 2013 from NR nomination from MDAH HRI accessed 10-14-2013

Positive preservation news out of Tupelo is that the Spain House restorations are moving forward.  Workers have removed the vinyl siding and found the historic wood siding underneath to be in better shape then anticipated.  This work is being funded by a $10,000 matching grant awarded through the Mississippi Department of Archives.

Gillespie-Jackson House (1850), Starkville. Photo by Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff.

Malvaney’s post yesterday covered the story that the last two antebellum homes in Starkville are for sale and one could be torn down.



Apartment complex on Catalpa Avenue, Pascagoula. From WLOX accessed 8-21-2017

Down in Pascagoula, there is talk by the city that they are considering the demolition of a mid-century apartment building.  After looking at the predicament that the City of Tupelo finds itself in, it might be worthwhile to invest the city’s demolition funds into making the building attractive to a potential new owner.


Another story from Pascagoula concerns the iconic Edd’s Drive-in.  Edd’s and several other downtown businesses received a facade grant from Main Street Pascagoula.  The funds will pay for repairs to the stucco and some caulking to fix a crack in the south side of the building.  There will also be some landscaping in front of the historic Quonset hut warehouses that sit behind the drive-in.  The article takes pains to point out that no changes will be made to the landmark’s facade.



Horn Lake‘s Circle G Ranch has been nominated for National Register.  You might remember that the ranch has been featured here before due to its association with Elvis Presley.  This nomination is just one of many steps to save the King’s get-away home.  According to the Jackson Free Press work is expected to begin at the ranch in the next 120 days.  This is beginning to sound like a victory for a place once labeled One of America’s Most Endangered Roadside Places by the Society for Commercial Archeology.



An international article that is relevant to some of our news stories this week.  From City Lab the question is posed “How Do You Measure the Value of a Historic Site?”


This week was busy, although this is certainly not all the preservation goings-on in Mississippi.  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: Abandoned Mississippi, Antebellum, Building Types, Capitols Old & New, Churches, Demolition/Abandonment, Disasters, For Sale, Grants, Hattiesburg, Heritage Tourism, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Lost Mississippi, McComb, Modernism, MS Dept. of Archives and History, National Register, News Roundups, Pascagoula, Port Gibson, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Preservation People/Events, Recent Past, Renovation Projects, Starkville, Tupelo


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