10 MOST LISTS
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The goal of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places program list is to raise awareness about the most threatened historic places in Mississippi and the dangers they are facing which could lead to their destruction.
"Each of the endangered places holds a special place in our collective memory and helps to define who we are as a people, as a culture, as a state. The importance of their continued preservation cannot be overstated. We need these places so that our children's children will understand who they are."
- Thomas S. Howorth
Past President, Mississippi Heritage Trust
2000 10 Most Endangered sites:
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about each site
Heights - Jackson
Chalmers Institute/University of Holly Springs
Irving Hotel - Greenwood
Lamar House - Oxford
River Basin Model - Jackson
City Hotel - Columbus
Island Lighthouse - Pascagoula
Hospital - Mound Bayoul
House - Jackson
Belhaven and Belhaven Heights are fine examples of "streetcar
subdivisions" built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries that sprang up all over the country. Widely popular when
they were built, these subdivisions still offer quality housing
relatively close to their city centers. At first blush, Belhaven
seems to be the model of a properly preserved, historically significant
subdivision. However, deeper inspection reveals some challenges
that the neighborhood should address: absentee ownership, commercial
corridor erosion, and a threat from the widening of Interstate
55. This neighborhood is the last well-preserved historic area
close to downtown Jackson. The time has come for a cohesive plan
and support from neighborhood residents, commercial enterprises,
and local government in order to combat and prevail over this area’s
2009 Update - In Progress
Most structures in Greater Belhaven are included in historic districts designated by the City of Jackson and overseen by the City’s Historic Preservation Commission. Despite this, and notwithstanding diligent support from various neighborhood groups (including the Belhaven Improvement Association, Belhaven Heights Community Association, and Greater Belhaven Security Association), the neighborhood’s continued success is constantly challenged by urban blight. To combat this challenge, the neighborhoods formed the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation (GBNF) in late 1999 to work on long-range preservation and revitalization through community redevelopment, security, and neighborhood communication. To further this work, the neighborhood was designated an Urban Main Street community in 2003. Through the Main Street program, GBNF is working with the City of Jackson to redesign Fortification Street to be pedestrian-oriented and neighborhood-friendly, and to re-develop the Fortification, Jefferson and North State street areas using mixed-use zoning conducive to restaurants, shops, stores, offices, apartments, condominiums, and residential cottages.
To stand behind its mission, GBNF renovated a circa-1925 cottage at 954 Fortification Street as its headquarters, winning a Preservation Award from the City of Jackson in 2004; the Adaptive Re-Use Partnership Award from Mississippi Main Street in 2004; and the MHT Trustees Award for Organizational Excellence in 2004 for its efforts to preserve Belhaven and Belhaven Heights.
Institute/University of Holly Springs
Holly Springs, Mississippi
The Chalmers Institute in Holly Springs is the oldest university
building and the second oldest school building in the state. It
was originally built in 1837 with publicly raised funds, becoming
part of the University of Holly Springs in 1838. The intent was
for the school to become the state university in Mississippi, an
effort that ultimately failed when the University of Mississippi
was located in Oxford. Subsequently, this building operated as
the Chalmers Institute and then the Holly Springs Normal Institute
for many years. Its masonry construction is rare for a structure
that was built in, what was then, the frontier.
2009 Update - In Progress
In 2003, a group of concerned citizens purchased the Chalmers Institute to save it from demolition and had it designated a Mississippi Landmark that year. The owners, Preserve Marshall County/Holly Springs Inc., received a $90,000 grant through a Senate Bond Issue in 2003, and the owners donated the property to the city, but since then, the City of Holly Springs has not provided an accounting of the bond money’s use. The previous owners bought back the property and are working on fund raising, a stabilization project, and a way to obtain the $90,000 grant money from the city specifically designated for this particular project.
During its heyday, Greenwood's Hotel Irving enjoyed a reputation
as one of the finest hotels in Mississippi. Built in 1917 as
a commercial adaptation of the Colonial Revival style, the brick
structure soon became a mecca for businessmen and travelers.
note, Joe Stein operated this hotel for many years. Despite
its prominent location across from the main post office, the
has been vacant for several decades. While an effort to revive
this property can be traced back over twenty-five years, no
true consensus on what should be done has ever been reached.
meantime, this fine structure teeters on the brink of total
disrepair. The hotel’s revitalization would give all of
downtown Greenwood a much-needed economic boost.
2009 Update - SAVED
Viking Range Corporation acquired this Colonial Revival brick structure, as it has several other buildings in downtown Greenwood, and completed the renovation of the building, turning it into a world-class boutique hotel. The renovation has spurred additional work in downtown Greenwood. The hotel was renamed “The Alluvian” and reopened in 2003. Its fifty guest rooms accommodate the many guests that the area attracts.
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar was probably the leading Mississippi
statesman of the nineteenth century. Prior to the civil war,
he was a congressional representative. At the outbreak of hostilities,
he drew up the Mississippi Secession Ordinance. Serving during
the war in the Confederate military with the rank of Lieutenant
Colonel, he was recalled to Richmond, Virginia by Jefferson
in 1862. At Davis' behest, Lamar resigned his military commission
in order to accept an appointment as a traveling ambassador
for the Confederate State Department. After Reconstruction, he
in the U.S. Senate, and was Secretary of the Interior under
Grover Cleveland. Later, he became a Justice of the Supreme Court.
in 1857, his Oxford home is of the Greek Revival style. A classic
case of “Demolition by Neglect”, the last remaining
house in the state with ties to Lamar will be lost without
intervention. If this house were in Virginia it would be a
2009 Update - SAVED
In 2003, the Oxford-Lafayette County Heritage Foundation purchased the house and raised more than $1.5 million in funding for its restoration. Now property of the City of Oxford, the renovated house opened in 2008 and is open four days a week for tours and special events.
River Basin Model
Hinds County, Mississippi
The Mississippi River Basin Model is the largest small-scale working
model in existence. The reason it is so large is simply because
any scale model of the Mississippi River Valley will be large.
Moreover, finding a suitable scale to properly model the various
hydraulic events in the valley proved to be a challenge during
the design stage of its construction. The resulting model covered
several acres. A working scale model of the Chesapeake Bay is the
only other similar model in the United States.
Started in 1943 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi
River Basin Model is designed to study floods, drought and
other weather events. The early excavation was carried out by German
prisoners of war, who were captured in North Africa when Rommel's
Africa Korps was destroyed by Anglo-American forces. Later
work by local Jackson contractors. The model was completed
and ready for use in the early 1950's. Interestingly, a day on
river can be simulated in just 5.4 minutes using the model.
Although it was useful for predicting flood limits for four decades,
model was decommissioned in the early 1990's when it was replaced
by computer software for flood control modeling and simulation.
Currently owned by the City of Jackson, the model is in fair
shape; however, being outdoors subjects it to increased threats.
1993, the model and the land on which it sits was deeded to the
City of Jackson. A city park was built around the model, which
now unused and mostly hidden from view by the dense undergrowth
that the German POWs worked so hard to remove almost 60 years
Despite its sadly deteriorated condition, the Basin Model stands
as a monument to man's desire to understand and control the mighty
2009 Update - No Progress
No progress has been made on this site.
Courthouse square, tree-lined streets, historic neighborhoods,
downtown shopping, campus traditions . . . Like Athens, Gainesville,
Tuscaloosa and a dozen other small- to medium-sized southern college
towns, the city of Oxford is on the cusp of losing the special
character that defines it and draws such an appreciative audience.
Despite good intentions, the resulting pressure for development
to service the southern-savvy tourist, increased student enrollment
and loyal retiring fans undermines the very character we all want
2009 Update - In Progress
The city has adopted design review guidelines, has a Preservation Ordinance in place, and has designated several historic districts throughout the city. Since the listing on MHT’s endangered list in 2000, much progress has been made. The restoration and use of the Oxford Depot won a MHT Award of Merit in 2004.
The 1870-era Lafayette County Courthouse has been completely restored and renovated recently using federal, state and county funds. The original main courtroom, which had been significantly altered in the 1970’s, was restored to its original condition. That building is at the center of the Courthouse Square National Historic District. The 1889-era Burns Belfry building has finished its first phase of construction and stabilization. A Mississippi Landmark, it is the site of the Burns United Methodist Church, the area’s first church built by freed slaves. The second phase of construction will soon begin, following the announcement of a HUD grant, and funding is being sought for the third and final phase of construction. On the University of Mississippi campus, eight buildings have been designated National Historic Landmarks, including The Lyceum and The Circle. This designation was announced in October 2008.
Located on 7th Avenue in Columbus, the Queen City Hotel was formerly
the social and cultural hub of the Columbus African-American community.
Originally converted into a hotel in 1914 by blues guitarist Robert
Walker, it was sold in 1931 to Ed Bush who operated the business
for many years. During this era, this section of Columbus became
the business center of the African-American community, with a number
of shops opened on 7th Avenue, 19th Street, and 20th Street. The
strong will of Ed Bush was the glue that held this small community
together; and after his health started to fail, the businesses
began to fail as well. The present owners of the structure have
a grant to operate a museum documenting the African-American community
in Columbus. However, the structure is in poor repair, and funds
must be raised to stabilize the structure before the grant may
2009 Update - Lost
Portions of the building were destroyed by storms in the Columbus area in 2002, and there was very little remaining of the original structure—only the front wall remained. Although the legislature approved funds for reconstructing the building, and a local architect was hired to prepare drawings, the owners bulldozed the property in 2008, erasing the history of this important landmark.
Off the coast of Pascagoula, Mississippi
Located off the shore of Pascagoula, the Round Island Lighthouse
was severely damaged by Hurricane Georges in 1998. During the storm,
the structure toppled from the undercutting flow of waves. Although
the city obtained federal emergency funds to stabilize the foundation
and prevent further wave incursions, significant work remains in
order to restore the structure. Built in 1849 to replace an earlier
lighthouse, it remained in operation until 1944. During the late
nineteenth century, it served as a quarantine station for yellow
fever epidemics. Curiously, the U.S. Navy briefly blockaded Round
Island when it was used as an encampment by a private army that
had decided to invade Cuba for fun and profit. Ahead of its time,
this little known army was shown the error of its ways by the Federal
gunboats, thus the real invasion of Cuba would have to wait a few
2009 Update - In Progress
Before Hurricane Katrina, the City of Pascagoula rebuilt the 11-acre beach around the lighthouse and secured it with a concrete breakwater. The City received a CIAP grant and planted native vegetation on the new beach to minimize erosion. They applied for funding from a TEA-21 grant for restoration, but finding the match money was a problem even though the lighthouse has received $250,000 from the Community Heritage Grant Program administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the battered lighthouse is still there; however, erosion and damage caused by the hurricane has taken its toll. Plans are to barge the lighthouse ashore about three miles inland near the Highway 90 bridge, and bids are out for the barging process. The new location will be the beginning of a historic pathway.
Mound Bayou, Mississippi
Like its host city, the Taborian Hospital in Mound Bayou is unique
and remarkable. Built by the McKissick Construction Company
of Nashville, Tennessee in the modern style, the hospital was
in 1942. At a time when medical facilities for African-Americans
were almost non-existent, it offered a 42-bed facility through
the auspices of the Taborians and Meharry Medical School. The
Taborians were a forward-thinking African-American fraternal
that originally offered burial insurance to their members.
When it became clear that this group’s needs were not being
addressed by any existing caregivers, the Taborians expanded
to include medical care. Staffed by medical personnel from
Meharry Medical School in Nashville, the hospital operated until
1960's. At this time, Medicare finally forced the integration
of formerly segregated hospitals, and the small scale of Taborian
could no longer economically compete with the larger Delta
2009 Update - No Progress
The building is still vacant and funding for renovation has not been acquired. The Knights and Daughters of Tabor would like to establish a cultural center in the building. Recently, Mound Bayou’s mayor and other city officials brought in the Jackson Medical Mall to work with the Knights and Daughters to seek grant funding for the project. As of August 2009, their U.S. Department of Agriculture funding application had cleared the state level and was working its way through the federal level. If approved, Mound Bayou officials said the renovation could begin in 2010.
Located in Jackson's beautiful Mynelle Gardens, Westbrook House
was built in 1921 by William Wall Westbrook. The brick structure
was built in the Mediterranean Revival style, popular in that
era. Featuring a totally enclosed center patio, superb woodwork
interesting windows, the house was designed by noted Jackson
architect Noah Webster Overstreet. Overstreet is described by
Architectural Historian Richard Cawthon as "...the most influential
and prolific architect in the history of the state." Originally
the private residence of the Westbrook family, the house was
later used for a thriving flower business. In 1973, the house
were sold to the City of Jackson. The structure was used for
wedding receptions and parties for some years. Currently in
a state of
disrepair, the house is badly in need of brick work and a new
2009 Update - SAVED
The City of Jackson began restoration on the exterior in 2000 which has now been completed returning the facade back to its original grandeur. The City acquired a Community Heritage Grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for interior renovations. Work progressed on the interior renovation and one-third of the interior was completed in 2004. Plans are to apply for more money to complete the project to be able to use the house for weddings, receptions, and meetings.
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