Preservation

Preservation Grant Applications Open

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) is accepting grant applications for preservation projects across the state. The 2022 Mississippi Legislature has provided funding for the Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program (CHPG) and the Mississippi Historic Site Preservation Grant Program (MHSPG).

“For over 20 years, the state legislature has offered generous support for CHPG funding, which has aided in the rehabilitation of hundreds of Mississippi's historic courthouses, schools, and other landmark buildings,” said Barry White, director of the Historic Preservation Division at MDAH. “The addition of the Historic Sites Grant Program expands our role in preservation, providing support for the acquisition of significant historic properties. These grants offer incredible opportunities to preserve historic properties, tell their broader stories, and attract new visitors.”

CHPG grants help preserve, restore, rehabilitate, and interpret Mississippi courthouses and schools across the state. In communities that participate in the Certified Local Government (CLG) Program, buildings other than courthouses and schools are also eligible, as long as they are Mississippi Landmarks.

The fifty-six Certified Local Government communities in Mississippi are Aberdeen, Baldwyn, Biloxi, Booneville, Brandon, Canton, Carrollton, Carthage, Claiborne County, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Clinton, Columbia, Columbus, Como, Corinth, Durant, Gautier, Greenville, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Hazlehurst, Hernando, Holly Springs, Indianola, Jackson, Kosciusko, Laurel, Leland, Lexington, Louisville, McComb, Meridian, Mound Bayou, Mount Olive, Natchez, New Albany, Newton, Ocean Springs, Oxford, Pascagoula, Philadelphia, Port Gibson, Quitman, Raymond, Senatobia, Sharkey County, Starkville, Tunica, Tupelo, Vicksburg, Water Valley, West, West Point, and Woodville, and Yazoo City.

State agencies, county or municipal governments, school districts, and nonprofit organizations granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status may submit applications. A cash match of at least twenty percent is required, and grants will be paid on a reimbursable basis upon successful completion of the project.

The Historic Sites Grant Program offers grants for the acquisition of sites related to Civil War battles, Native American archaeology, and civil rights history. Grants, which require a one-to-one match, can be used for land acquisition and property preservation costs. Colleges and universities, historical societies, state agencies, local governments, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply.

CHPG guidelines and applications may be downloaded from the following link: CHPG Application. HSPG guidelines and applications may be downloaded from the following link: HSPG ApplicationThe deadline to submit completed applications is September 30, 2022. The MDAH Board of Trustees will award the grants at its quarterly meeting in January 2023. For more information call 601-576-6940 or email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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Unita Blackwell Property Added to National Register of Historic Places

The Unita Blackwell Property, the property of the first African American woman in the state elected to the office of mayor, has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The United States Secretary of the Interior approved the addition upon the recommendation of the Mississippi National Register Review Board.

“I am ecstatic about this news. I am humbled that the family matriarch is being honored in this fashion,” said the son of Blackwell, Jeremiah Blackwell Jr.

The Unita Blackwell Property consists of the Freedom House, the Ranch House, and the neighbor’s shotgun house.

The Freedom House was Blackwell’s primary residence and was used to host numerous civil rights meetings between the years of 1964-1970. The Freedom House hosted many groups associated with the Civil Rights Movement as well such as the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Ranch House was added for its association to Blackwell’s productive life during her career as mayor of Mayersville, and its use for political work sessions and meetings during her Mayorship. Lastly, the neighbor’s shotgun house was add for its architectural significance and association to the civil rights leader.

The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects wrote the nomination for the Unita Blackwell property and will work to operate the site as a community center in the future.

"We are thrilled to have played a role in the first steps toward institutionalizing the legacy of the Honorable Unita Blackwell, by having her former home named to the National Registry. The next steps for us is building a museum worthy of her name and her comrades," said president and founder Natalie Collier. "Such a space will not only be a gathering space in Mayersville, but will also remind the Mississippi Delta, Mississippians and beyond of the dignity, tenacity and charm of a Black woman who succeeded in “Barefootin’” her way to personal, civil and humanitarian freedom. Ms. Unita has long-since been a point of personal inspiration, so I’m grateful her son, Jeremiah, worked with us to achieve this milestone."

“Unita Blackwell was an amazing local leader and trailblazer. Her story is one that everyone should know,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “I am so glad her property is being preserved for future generations.”

The National Register of Historic Places was established by Congress in 1966 to help identify and protect historically significant properties. National Register properties enrich our understanding of local, state, and national history by representing significant events and developments, the contributions of notable people, and important types of buildings and architectural styles. National Register listing can also help preserve these important properties through tax benefits, grant assistance, and protection from demolition or development.

National Register listing does not restrict a private owner's use of the property, unless development of the property involves federal funding, federal rehabilitation tax credits, or participation in some other federal program. There are no requirements for public accessibility, and information about sensitive sites can be restricted from the public.

By preserving Mississippi's diverse historic resources, and sharing them with people around the world, MDAH inspires discovery of stories that connect our lives and shape our future. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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Preserving the Past: Mississippi's Archaeology Landmarks

Join us for a family-friendly archaeology expo in celebration of Historic Preservation Month on the Old Capitol Museum Lawn featuring a hands-on digging and excavation site, atlatl and flint knapping demonstrations presented by archaeologists, artifact washing workshops, and craft stations. Face masks and social distancing guidelines are required. For more information, visit the MDAH Facebook page. 

New Book Explores Mississippi History through Architecture

J. Baughn BoMA new book uses Mississippi’s civic structures, log cabins, schools, mansions, and skyscrapers to broaden our understanding of the state’s history. Buildings of Mississippi, co-authored by Jennifer V.O. Baughn and Michael Fazio with contributions by Mimi Miller, is the definitive guide to understanding Mississippi’s rich architectural heritage.

Buildings of Mississippi is the first field guide that covers all periods from prehistoric mounds to buildings of the 21st century,” said Baughn, chief architectural historian at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. “I hope the book shows visitors the variety of Mississippi's built environment and gives Mississippians a reason to take a second look at their hometowns.”

Buildings of Mississippi contains more than 500 building entries, 250 illustrations, and thirty maps. Each entry includes an architectural description of the structure and a brief history. The book is a volume in the Buildings of the United States series of the Society of Architectural Historians. Baughn spent nine years writing Buildings of Mississippi with Fazio, a longtime professor of architecture at Mississippi State University who died last year.

“Michael Fazio was a mentor to generations of architecture students from MSU, and I was so honored to work with him as co-author on Buildings of Mississippi,” said Baughn. “He was a good friend, and I miss his guidance and laughter.”

Baughn and Fazio divided the work on the book geographically—because Fazio lived in Starkville, he took care of the north and east central regions. They jointly wrote the entries for the Coast, picking out sites as they drove along Highway 90. Mimi Miller, executive director emerita of the Historic Natchez Foundation, wrote the entries for Adams County, setting down in print a wealth of knowledge about some of Mississippi’s most architecturally distinctive buildings.

“The book integrates the racial landscape by examining both black and white neighborhoods and landmarks,” said Baughn. “There are the famous white-columned mansions of Natchez that have been the mainstay of heritage tourism since the 1930s but also the distinctive outbuildings that surround them such as kitchens, dairies, and quarters for enslaved workers; there are also elite neighborhoods like Eastover in Jackson nearby the modest GI Subdivision, established by World War II veterans returning from service.”

Buildings of Mississippi is an invaluable resource and a pleasure to read,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “Baughn and Fazio offer a fascinating, thoughtful, and beautifully written chronicle of the evolution of our state’s built environment, paying particular attention to the complexities of race and class that have shaped our landscape and culture.”

Signed copies of Buildings of Mississippi are for sale at the Mississippi Museum Store. Call 601-576-6921 or email store@mdah.ms.gov for more information.

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Nearly $3M in Preservation Grants Awarded

Natchez City HallAt a regular meeting on January 22, the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History awarded nearly $3 million on behalf of the Community Heritage Preservation Grant program to eighteen preservation and restoration projects from across the state. The Community Heritage Preservation Grant program, authorized and funded by the Mississippi Legislature, helps preserve and restore historic courthouses and schools in Certified Local Government communities and other historic properties.

"The Legislature has saved hundreds of significant Mississippi properties through this program," said MDAH director Katie Blount. "The Department of Archives and History is grateful for the Legislature's support and pleased to be able to help preserve these local treasures."

The grant awards are as follows:

House on Ellicott’s Hill, Natchez, Adams County—$210,400
For restoration of the front gallery of the building.

Natchez City Hall, Natchez, Adams County—$157,056
For replacement of the roof.

Corinth Coliseum Theater, Corinth, Alcorn County—$236,234
For replacement of the roof and ADA upgrades.

Chickasaw County Courthouse, Houston, Chickasaw County—$226,677
For repairs to the roof and other interior repairs.

G.L. Hawkins Elementary, Hattiesburg, Forrest County—$35,200
For roof repairs.

Franklin County Courthouse, Meadville, Franklin County—$144,388
For window and masonry restoration, and reroofing of the jail.

Wechsler School, Meridian, Lauderdale County—$277,154
For interior and exterior rehabilitation.

(Old) Monticello Elementary, Monticello, Lawrence County—$40,000
For structural repairs and asbestos report and abatement.

Stephen D. Lee House, Columbus, Lowndes County—$25,600
For front porch roof replacement.

Tennessee Williams House, Columbus, Lowndes County—$35,000
For rebuilding of the front porch.

Old Madison County Jail, Canton, Madison County—$250,250
For rear wall repair and roofing.

Marion County Courthouse, Columbia, Marion County—$225,940
For window restoration.

Isaac Chapel (Rosenwald School), Byhalia, Marshall County—$268,744
For interior and exterior restoration.

Noxubee County Library, Macon, Noxubee County—$200,044
For clay tile roof replacement and exterior restoration.

Pontotoc County Courthouse, Pontotoc, Pontotoc County—$239,753
For window and masonry restoration.

Quitman County Courthouse, Marks, Quitman County—$184,792
For exterior and interior rehabilitation.

(Old) Vicksburg Library, Vicksburg, Warren County—$103,370
For electrical upgrades, window and door restoration, and boiler removal.

Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, Vicksburg, Warren County—$89,056
For repair to the auditorium’s south wall.

Grant awards are paid on a reimbursable basis upon the successful completion of the entire project or at the time of the completion of pre-established phases of the project. Prior to application, all buildings must have been designated Mississippi Landmarks. Only county or municipal governments, school districts, and nonprofit organizations granted Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service may submit applications.

To become a Certified Local Government, a community must adopt a preservation ordinance establishing a preservation commission in accordance with federal and state guidelines. Once the commission has been established, application for CLG status may be made to the National Park Service through the Department of Archives and History. MDAH works closely with local government officials and citizens to help them create and manage a workable local historic preservation program. To learn more about the CLG program, contact Meredith Massey in the Historic Preservation Division of MDAH, at 601-576-6538.

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Natchez Outbuilding Survey Awarded NPS Grant

The National Park Service (NPS) has awarded the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) $50,000 in support of the Natchez Outbuilding Survey, a study of nineteenth-century structures built adjacent to antebellum houses in the Natchez area. Of particular focus are the living quarters of enslaved persons and the kitchens, smokehouses, and agricultural buildings where they labored.

The Natchez Outbuilding Survey is a partnership between MDAH and the Historic Natchez Foundation. The money from the NPS Underrepresented Communities Grant will be used to hire a consultant to prepare a National Register of Historic Places nomination. MDAH will issue a request for proposals for the project this month, and the work is expected to be completed in 2023.

“The information gathered through the Natchez Outbuilding Survey has deepened our understanding of nineteenth-century life in Mississippi and the architecture of slavery in the Natchez region,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are especially grateful for our partnership with the Historic Natchez Foundation, and we are thankful to the National Park Service for funding this initiative.”

“The Historic Natchez Foundation is thrilled that MDAH has received an Underrepresented Community Grant from the National Park Service for the Natchez Outbuilding project,” said Carter Burns, executive director of the Historic Natchez Foundation. “We are proud to partner with MDAH on this important endeavor to document and study more than 150 of these structures, which are closely associated with the lives of enslaved African Americans. This grant recognizes the importance of these sites by enabling their nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.”

The Natchez Outbuilding Survey has uncovered information about how enslaved people moved within their environments through examinations of slave outbuildings floorplans, the location of windows and doors, circulation patterns between the outbuildings and the main house, and lines of sight between buildings.

“This thematic nomination will place the important collection of Natchez outbuildings into a national conversation about the landscapes of slavery and servitude,” said MDAH chief architectural historian Jennifer Baughn. “We can see how owners designed control mechanisms for supervision, but also how enslaved people could carve out spaces where they had some agency.”

Natchez was the location of the Forks of the Road, one of the largest slave markets in the United States. Wealthy planters, who accumulated their wealth through slave labor, built what architectural historians have termed “suburban villas” in the town. Enslaved people lived in housing detached from the villas. Researchers estimate Natchez has the largest concentration of slave-related sites in the nation.

By preserving Mississippi's diverse historic resources, and sharing them with people around the world, MDAH inspires discovery of stories that connect our lives and shape our future. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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Community Heritage Preservation Grant Applications Open

MDAH is accepting applications for preservation projects across the state. The 2020 Mississippi Legislature has provided funding for another round of the Community Heritage Preservation Grant (CHPG) Program, which helps preserve, restore, rehabilitate, and interpret historic courthouses and schools. In Certified Local Government communities, grant funds may also be used for projects involving historic buildings other than courthouses or schools.

The MDAH Board of Trustees will award the grants at a special meeting in December. County or municipal governments, school districts, and nonprofit organizations granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status may submit applications. A cash match of at least twenty percent is required, and grant awards are reimbursed upon the successful completion of the project.

Guidelines and applications may be downloaded from the following link: CHPG Application. The deadline to submit completed applications is October 2. For more information call 601-576-6940.

The fifty-five CLG communities in Mississippi are Aberdeen, Baldwyn, Biloxi, Booneville, Brandon, Canton, Carrollton, Carthage, Claiborne County, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Clinton, Columbia, Columbus, Como, Corinth, Durant, Gautier, Greenville, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Hazlehurst, Hernando, Holly Springs, Indianola, Jackson, Kosciusko, Laurel, Leland, Lexington, Louisville, McComb, Meridian, Mound Bayou, Mount Olive, Natchez, New Albany, Newton, Ocean Springs, Oxford, Pascagoula, Philadelphia, Port Gibson, Quitman, Raymond, Senatobia, Sharkey County, Starkville, Tunica, Tupelo, Vicksburg, Water Valley, West, West Point, and Woodville.

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