Even though it doesn’t look inviting, let’s jump right into today’s roundup. It is too hot already for this much bad news. To hopefully put everyone in a better mood, I’ve decided to share the bad news first and end with the good news stories.
Starting in Bay St. Louis, the big news is the controversial firing of a Historic Preservation Commission member. The firing was done in an executive session of the city council, with no reason for the firing given to the public. One council member did go on record as saying they would like to see the commission dissolved. This seems short-sighted on the council’s part. The HPC is working to preserve the character of the community that makes The Bay such a unique and interesting place to visit and live. Without protection for their resources, it could quickly lose that special sense of place.
Staying on the coast and with more inane activities, the City of Biloxi purchased four historic homes, only to burn them down. The houses were in good shape and had been occupied as recently as last month. Biloxi’s Mayor “FoFo” Gilich said the buildings couldn’t be moved “due to asbestos”, but that is not true. The city has previously moved historic buildings with asbestos siding as recently as the Slay House in 2010. Happy Historic Preservation Month folks!
More sickening news, this time from Columbus. Habitat for Humanity has demolished a 100+year old house on Third Avenue that is owned by Annunciation Catholic Church. The church has no plans for the empty lot.
Next stop on our tour of willful destruction, is the town of Summit that was shamed nationally as an AP story about the demolition of the 1869 Stockdale House ran in papers as far away as Seattle, Washington. Guess who owns the site? That’s right, a church. Specifically Summit’s First Baptist Church. And as typically expected, the church has no plans for the site.
In West Point, a 118 year old home on Highway 50, near Lone Oak Road, burned to the ground last Thursday.
The City of Greenwood has given the owner of the Midway Hotel, and the other owners of its connected structures, until June 19 to address the dilapidated buildings. This might be the last chance to see these buildings get stabilized.
Now on to the better news…
The Gautier Colored School is beginning its final phase of restoration. The Gautier Historic Commission hope to have the house completed this year. It will serve as a museum and welcome center.
Surprisingly, the only news out of Meridian are two stories bringing good news. The first is that the Threefoot Building will soon begin its restoration phase of the work to convert the building into a hotel.
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/mississippi/articles/2018-05-20/restoration-work-to-begin-for-art-deco-building-in-meridianThe other Meridian news story is that the city is submitting a Community Development Block Grant application for $500,000 on behalf of the Wechsler Foundation for the restoration of the Wechsler School.
Lastly, lets end with some pictures of the progress being made on Poplar Hill School in Jefferson County. Poplar Hill School is one of our 101 Mississippi Places to See Before You Die, and this stabilization and rehabiliation project is partially funded with a Community Heritage Preservation Grant from the Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History.
Remember you can catch the preservation news as it breaks in our Twitter sidebar to the right. =====>>
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, Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Building Types, Churches, Columbus, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Grants, Greenwood, Historic Preservation, Hotels, Lost Mississippi, Meridian, National Register, News Roundups, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Renovation Projects, Schools, Summit
I didn’t realize that proposing the dissolution of a Preservation Commission or the repeal of a Local Preservation Ordinance during an executive session was permissible under Mississippi’s Open Meetings Act. “Personnel” issues are fair game in executive session, so I guess that includes firing a volunteer commissioner. Also permitted is discussing a potential lawsuit, but unless a commissioner acted in bad faith, the City Council’s obligation should be to back up its appointed commission and stand up for the community it is supposed to protect, particularly in the face of a threatened lawsuit.