Last week’s Name This Place contest was a big success, thanks to all who participated. A big round of digital applause is due for our latest “Mississippi Preservationist Extraordinaire” ed polk douglas and W. White’s stalwart efforts pulling together entries and running the show. It was wonderful to read all the comments, and to see such enthusiastic participation from so many folks. I believe we probably won’t wait another two years before having the next contest.
Its been a busy two weeks for the preservation world since our last roundup, so let’s jump right into this week’s roundup.
From Meridian there are several stories about the damage caused by tornadoes that moved through the state on April 14. I am not sure of specific historic properties damaged, but the news stories do show that some of the oldest parts of Meridian received damage.
The Meridian Star reported on several April 9th fires that damaged historic houses. One fire damaged a mid-century home at 911 64th Avenue.
Another fire later in the day damaged two Victorian shotgun houses on Fulton Avenue.
And lastly from the Meridian Star comes a common sense opinion column stating that no more buildings in downtown Meridian should be demolished until the existing downtown parking garages that offer free parking are operating near capacity.
Columbus received damage as a result of the same storm system that created tornadoes in Meridian.
Lowndes County could finalize a sale for the purchase of the old Lipscomb property in Columbus as early as June. The county plans to demolish the National Register-listed property for a parking lot. I am getting weary of reading about how wasteful Columbus has become with its historic resources.
The only good news(?) from Columbus this week is that the former S. D. Lee High School, built in 1953, might be rehabilitated for commercial development purposes. According to the article, the developer was interested in including at least part of the main school building in the development plans. As a publicly owned resource, before it can be sold, MDAH has to determine if the building should be designated a Mississippi Landmark. This would prevent future owners of the historic structure from undertaking demolition without a permit from MDAH. It would also be the start of getting the building eligible for rehabilitation tax credits.
From Greenwood, there is news that the Midway Hotel might be demolished. The article alludes to another building that was inspected by a structural engineer, who reported that while deteriorated this other building could be salvaged. I am unfamiliar with the Midway Hotel, nor am I sure what other historic building is endangered. Anyone know the location of the Midway Hotel or the identity of the other mystery structure?
From Jackson, there are a few stories to share. On April 16th, MPB had a story about Jackson’s newest Freedom Trail Marker. The marker at Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson is the 27th marker on the Freedom Trail, and it documents the Ku Klux Klan’s bombing of the temple, and other Jewish associated locations in Jackson during 1967.
In downtown Jackson, Smith Park has reopened after some renovation work that included the removal of the 1970s creek. Gov. Bryant gave some remarks at the reopening event.
Something else the Governor did in the past two weeks was order the mandatory closure of 83 bridges. These locally owned bridges are to be closed in response to a communication from the Federal Highway Administration indicating that many of the state’s bridges are deficient and constitute a safety hazard. I am curious to learn how many of these bridges are historic.
From Edwards, we have news from Andrew Morang that there have been more demolitions in that town.
1. The former Dodge dealer at the bend on Hwy. 80 is being demolished right now. A truck was on the site. One of the old hydraulic lifts was still standing, like a steel skeleton. I wonder if they drained the hydraulic oil in the pit below the piston?
2. A store on Main Street is gone.
3. A 2-floor shop or commercial building on Utica Street is gone.
At this rate, there might not be much of Edwards left in a few years. One of the most iconic structures in Edwards that has been lost was the 1929 wood trestle bridge that spanned over the Alabama & Vicksburg railroad line, demolished in July of 2007. In addition to being a historic bridge, the bridge itself was in the final scene of the 1999 film “O Brother, Where art thou?”
From Holly Springs, there are several stories about the Behind the Big House Tour, including news that a group from the National Trust for Historic Preservation attended, among them National Trust President/CEO, Stephanie Meeks. Mississippi must be doing something right if there is national interest in a local history event.
News we’ve received from Natchez comes from the Director of Heritage and Interpretation at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL), Nora Katz. The ISJL will be presenting a staged reading of Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve at Temple B’nai Israel on Saturday, April 28th, and Sunday, April 29th. All of the proceeds from the production benefit the Temple B’nai Israel Restoration and Preservation Fund. You can learn more about the play at www.templebnaiisraelnatchez.org/adamandeve
Staying in Natchez, there is news that the Historic Natchez Foundation has a new executive director, Natchez native Carter Burns. Congratulations!
From Vicksburg, there is word that repairs to city hall have come in over bid, according to the Vicksburg Post. Two bids were received for repairing, restoring and repainting the building’s windows, repairing a rear door, and doing some masonry work on the building. The article correctly identifies the building as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a Mississippi State Historic Landmark.
The Yazoo Herald reported that a historic house on North Mound Street in Yazoo City caught on fire. I haven’t heard whether the house survived.
From Perkinston, there is word that the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College recently completed the rehabilitation of Harrison Hall. As a Mississippi Landmark, the rehabilitation of the 81-year-old structure was reviewed by MDAH for compliance with the Sec. of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation.
From Pascagoula, initially there were news stories that the Jackson Elementary School would be closed for the 2018-2019 school year to address problems the campus was having with flooding. Later it was reported that the school will remain open for the 2018-2019 school year, as the work should not affect the school’s ability to operate.
I don’t know much about this campus, but I’d wager, based on its similarity to parts of the Gautier Elementary School campus, that the buildings were designed by Claude H. Lindsley. Hopefully, measures necessary to alleviate flooding and drainage issues on campus do not have an adverse effect on the historic school.
Staying in Pascagoula, there is news that Ingalls Shipbuilding is reconstructing a shipyard on the east bank of the Pascagoula River over the next two years. Many of the historic buildings at the east bank shipyard that flooded during Hurricane Katrina dated to the World War Two era. Despite surviving Katrina relatively unscathed, the structures were demolished. Hopefully, the few remaining historic buildings will be reused rather than needlessly demolished.
In Ocean Springs, there is a news story that the School district is considering spending over $5 million dollars to renovate the high school football stadium. According to a Sun Herald article,
“The Ocean Springs football team moved into Greyhound Stadium in 1965 after playing a final game at Freedom Field on Nov. 13, 1964. The first game was played at Greyhound Stadium on Sept. 3, 1965 — a 24-6 win over Notre Dame of Biloxi.”
As the current stadium is 50 years old, a National Register of Historic Places designation might provide several options for funding a rehabilitation of the historic stadium. I don’t know much about this particular stadium, but I believe this might have been a standardized plan, as it is similar to several other high school stadiums around the coast. We’ve pondered here on MissPres before that if high school sports are so important to Mississippians, why are there not more associated sites listed on the National Register?
From Biloxi, there is word that the city is considering selling or leasing two antebellum structures that the city owns: the Magnolia Hotel, and Creole Cottage. The buildings are both Mississippi Landmarks, which will help protect the buildings if they are sold to a private owner. The article doesn’t mention what would happen to the Mardi Gras and Dusti Bonge Art Foundation museums that currently occupy the buildings.
In Biloxi‘s decade long effort to pave the streets of the town, the news headline below was bound to occur at least once. According to WLOX.com
“Workers excavating the area on U.S. 90 south of the Biloxi City Cemetery discovered human bones 5 feet below the ground. Biloxi police officers and the Harrison County Coroner’s Office supervised the removal. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History was notified of the find.”
Omitted from the news blurb is that work will likely stop until an archaeologist can inspect the findings.
The City of Jackson should follow Biloxi’s lead and just get rid of their streets, ‘cus you can’t have pot holes if you don’t have roads. :)
We’ll end this week’s roundup in Bay St. Louis, where the coffee shop that was proposed to be placed in two historic structures on Main Street, has been issued a permit to proceed by MDAH. You might recall from a previous roundup, that MDAH has preservation easements on the property because the buildings received some federal restoration funds after Hurricane Katrina. The easements are to protect the taxpayers’ investment in the historic property. Unfortunately, the newspaper article did not include an image of the design that meets the Sec. of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
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I undoubtedly missed a story or two. 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: African American History, Antebellum, Biloxi, Bridges, Cemeteries, Churches, Columbus, Demolition/Abandonment, Disasters, Edwards, Greenwood, Historic Landscapes, Historic Preservation, Holly Springs, Hotels, Hurricane Katrina, Jackson, Meridian, Mississippi Landmarks, Modernism, MS Dept. of Archives and History, Museums, Natchez, National Register, National Trust, News Roundups, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Schools, Yazoo City
It was the intent of the Board of Supervisors of Lowndes County all along to demolish the Lipscomb house. They claim they need the parking. Just last year they bought property across the street from the courthouse and removed a section of buildings there. A few years ago they tore down a bland 2 story building on the block the courthouse sits on for parking. And before that was a bungalow style home that had been being used as a county extension office, I believe.
I have felt since the Lipscomb home came up for sale that this would happen. It’s rather disappointing since both the county attorney and the president of the board of supervisors (the brothers Sanders) both live in historic homes that they did not do more to save the home, rather than sit back and let it end up this way. I know some people that said it was cost prohibitive to move it.
I guess the best (?) part of the loss of this home is that they have already contracted with a salvager to remove materials for resale, rather than bulldoze it like 1st Baptist did the house around the corner, for the parking lot they wanted to build…..which has yet to happen.
I don’t think it was ever any secret that the BOS wanted to demolish the building, they just needed to find a way to bypass laws so the taxpayers would fund the destruction of the historic house.
I appreciate your silver lining approach, but there is definitely no best part of this proposed loss, hiring a scavenger is the equivalent of “killing grandma so we can wear her jewelry”, as one MissPres reader framed this practice.
This is true. I’m still smarting over the fact that 1st Baptist bulldozed the Friendship House at daybreak with NO salvaging allowed though….so the fact that some things will be saved from this one hurts a little less than to just push it over and scoop it into a dump truck.
I found it interesting that the Seattle Times published the AP write-up of the Biloxi story (above) on their website. A big city like Seattle taking interest in Biloxi has my wheels turning. Don’t get me wrong…I’m very interested in the “rest of the story”, i.e. the Archaeological report. But, Seattle? Is there something I’m missing here or am I simply overthinking this? 🙃 https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/discovery-of-bones-halts-water-line-project/
The Midway Hotel is in Greenwood, not Greenville. Its oldest section dates back to pre-1910, when it was built as the Kitchell Hotel. It has gone through other names and was last used by Russell Antiques, which specialized in oversize estate pieces. It was never a grand hotel but had some interesting interior details and a nightclub in the basement, the Blue Room. The entire west end of that block of Carrollton Avenue was destroyed in a July, 2009, fire, which also gutted part of the Midway. The Greenwood Fire Department was stretched to their limits and trying to extinguish the flames in the Midway without much luck; lo and behold, here came the Itta Bena Volunteer Fire Department with a bunch of teenagers and a water cannon! Darned if they didn’t put it out. The fellow who now owns it is a political hack and slumlord and he has allowed the interior to collapse while pitching one crazy scheme after another. Whether it is in imminent danger of collapsing into the street is not known, but the city has blocked off Walthall Street on the east side. The City Council has tired of playing games with this owner and I’m afraid the Midway is not long for the world. Just a block up on Carrollton Avenue, Antoon’s Department Store’s roof collapsed during heavy rains a couple of weeks ago. Main Street Greenwood owns that property and has had some interest from potential buyers, but I don’t know what the status is now. The good news there is that the beautiful script “Antoon’s” neon sign was removed for repairs before the roof caved in.
I will try to post some pictures of the Midway Hotel.
I guess the AP story was picked up by several outlets without checking the facts. I’m familiar with the Kitchell Hotel. I didn’t know it was also called the Midway.
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Full disclosure, Thomas wrote “Greenwood” but as I was going through the post last night, I saw that the links said “Greenville” and I changed it to Greenville without checking the articles as I should have.
As for Antoon’s, I’m so sad to hear this news. Downtown Greenwood is so much more vibrant than it was even ten years ago, but it keeps losing important buildings :-(
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Sad but true. Howard Street is indeed vibrant, but Carrollton Avenue and Johnson Street can’t seem to gain any traction. The most egregious tragedy, in my eyes, was the demolition of the Russell Company warehouse, which had the potential to house a stunning convention center. One pipsqueak state representative with an ax to grind, and a magnificent building disappears. Hopefully, the block left behind when the Midway comes down will be transformed into something special. Absentee property owners have blocked any improvements since the 2009 fire.
Per Lipscomb house, what’s also appalling is the $190,000 the BOS is paying for what will essentially be a 1/10th of an acre piece of dirt. One Hundred and Ninety Thousand Dollars for empty dirt in Columbus, Mississippi.
Folks, the bottom rail is on top. The slow drip in Columbus is turning into a full three finger pour.
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How many cars will be able to park on the area they are buying for that price? I’ve never had a real issue finding a parking spot to go to the courthouse…..even when court was in session and it was prime exercise time at the Y. Someone may have to walk a little further to get there, but usually less than half a block if they use the free parking lot by the church.
Next up will be the destruction of the Burns home by the soccer complex. “They” tried to slide that one by people too. I’m still hopeful that some agreement can be made, but it is in worse shape than the Lipscomb house is……and nothing has been done to prevent further vandalism since the news broke that it was in the properties that were being bought up.
Track the prior owners of the properties that were bought, versus the ones that weren’t.
What in the world is the Ethics Commission for if not to do a little digging into this sweetheart deal between two brothers working out a way for the taxpayers to pad their pockets? Why aren’t Columbus and Lowndes County voters putting a stop to this flagrant and expensive nepotism?
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Bottom line? Demographics.
Ben Toledano is a fellow preservationist and wrote this Letter To the Editor, Birney Imes. It involves the purchase of over $1,000,000 worth of textbooks by the CMSD from a McGraw-Hill text book depository in Jackson. The book depository name was never made public. I did an internet search and found that the total yearly sales for this company was roughly in the amount of sum paid out by CMSD.
Shouldn’t “gangbusters” Pickering and the Hood Bros. have sent the auditors over to the Friendly City?
Well, “what a revoltin’ development this turned out to be.” (Chester Riley, c. 1940s). Or, according to some sources (but not my memory when I watched the show in the 1950s) ‘what a revoltin’ development this is.’ Either way, this news is quite revolting.