10 MOST LISTS


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1999

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2003

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2009

 


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:

click on the name to view

information about each site

Belhaven/Belhaven Heights - Jackson


Chalmers Institute/University of Holly Springs


Irving Hotel - Greenwood


L.Q.C. Lamar House - Oxford


Mississippi River Basin Model - Jackson


City of Oxford


Queen City Hotel - Columbus


Round Island Lighthouse - Pascagoula


Taborian Hospital - Mound Bayoul


Westbrook House - Jackson

 


Belhaven/Belhaven Heights
Jackson, Mississippi

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 impending threats.

 

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.

 


Chalmers 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.  

 


Irving Hotel
Greenwood, Mississippi

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. Of note, Joe Stein operated this hotel for many years. Despite its prominent location across from the main post office, the hotel 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. In the 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. 

 


L.Q.C. Lamar House
Oxford, Mississippi

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 Davis 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 served in the U.S. Senate, and was Secretary of the Interior under Grover Cleveland. Later, he became a Justice of the Supreme Court. Built 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 state shrine.

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.

 


Mississippi 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 concrete work by local Jackson contractors. The model was completed and ready for use in the early 1950's. Interestingly, a day on the river can be simulated in just 5.4 minutes using the model. Although it was useful for predicting flood limits for four decades, the 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.

In 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 is now unused and mostly hidden from view by the dense undergrowth that the German POWs worked so hard to remove almost 60 years ago. Despite its sadly deteriorated condition, the Basin Model stands as a monument to man's desire to understand and control the mighty Mississippi River.

2009 Update - No Progress
No progress has been made on this site.

 


City of Oxford
Oxford, Mississippi

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 to experience.

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.

 


Queen City Hotel
Columbus, Mississippi

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 be awarded.

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.

 


Round Island Lighthouse
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 years.

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.

 


Taborian Hospital
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 dedicated 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 organization 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 their services to include medical care. Staffed by medical personnel from Meharry Medical School in Nashville, the hospital operated until the middle 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 hospitals.

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.

 


Westbrook House
Jackson, Mississippi

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 and interesting windows, the house was designed by noted Jackson architect Noah Webster Overstreet. Overstreet is described by current State 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 and gardens 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 roof.

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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1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009

 

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