Public Meetings

Anderson to Retire from MDAH Board, Flatgard Elected Next Board President

Reuben Anderson (left) with Spence Flatgard. At a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) on Friday, April 16, Reuben Anderson announced his plans to retire in July. Spence Flatgard of Ridgeland was elected to serve as board president beginning in October.

“Mississippi has been uplifted by Justice Anderson’s leadership, character and grace,” said Flatgard. “We all stand on his shoulders and those of former board presidents Mayor Kane Ditto and Governor William Winter. We invite every Mississippian to visit our world-class museums and compelling sites throughout our state to reflect on our rich history and look ahead to our bright future together.”

Anderson joined the board in 2007 and was elected president in 2020. After becoming the first Black student to graduate from the University of Mississippi School of Law, Anderson began his career during the 1960s as a civil rights attorney with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund. In 1977, Anderson became the first African American to be appointed a county court judge in Mississippi. In 1982, he became the state’s first African American circuit court judge, and he became the first African American to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1985.

Anderson was instrumental in the creation of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, helping to raise $20 million for its construction. Most recently, Anderson served as chair of the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag, which recommended a new design to represent the state. On November 3, 2020, Mississippians voted overwhelmingly to approve the design.

“Reuben Anderson has made history all his life, and he did no less at MDAH,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “From the beginning, he shared Governor Winter's vision for the Two Mississippi Museums, and his strong public advocacy ensured the project's success. With strength and moral clarity, he led Mississippi in choosing a new flag that elevates our state and unites our people. I speak for all the staff as I say that we are honored by his leadership and proud of what we have accomplished together.”

Anderson said, “I am proud to be succeeded by Spence Flatgard, who will be a strong leader for MDAH, drawing on his thorough understanding of the agency’s work and his broad network of contacts both in the public and private sector. Like Kane Ditto and myself, Spence is a great admirer of Governor William Winter and shares his conviction that we cannot move forward together without a shared understanding of our history. Spence will lead this outstanding board with character and commitment, and I look forward to watching MDAH flourish in the coming years.”

Flatgard began his career as Senator Roger Wicker’s first Legislative Director and has served as State Bond Attorney for both Governors Barbour & Bryant. He is now a government affairs attorney and partner at Watkins & Eager, PLLC, located two blocks from the Two Mississippi Museums. He and his wife Lou Ann cheer for their daughter Andie’s basketball teams as their family pastime.

Blount said, “Spence brings a wide range of skills and professional experience to MDAH. He is passionate about the work we do and has built strong relationships with the staff. We look forward to continuing to expand our audience and strengthen our impact under his leadership.”

A new trustee will be elected to fill Anderson’s seat in July. Members serve six-year terms. Other members of the board of trustees of the Department of Archives and History are Hilda Cope Povall of Cleveland, vice president; Nancy Carpenter, Columbus; Betsey Hamilton, New Albany; Web Heidelberg, Hattiesburg; Edmond Hughes, Ocean Springs; Mark Keenum, Starkville; and Helen Moss Smith of Natchez.

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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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