10 MOST LISTS


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1999

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2001

2005

2007

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2003 10 Most Endangered sites:

click on the name to view photos and

more information about each site

 

"The Cotton Pickers" B.P.O.E. Lodge No. 148 - Greenville

First Christian Church - Jackson

J.Z. George Law Office - Carrollton

(Old) Hattiesburg High School - Hattiesburg

Historic Cemeteries - Statewide

Indian Mounds - Statewide

The Robert Johnson Birthplace - Hazlehurst

Rodney Presbyterian Church - Rodney

Tivoli Hotel - Biloxi

The W.J. Quarles House - "Greenvale" - Long Beach

 


"The Cotton Pickers" B.P.O.E. Lodge No. 148
1906

Greenville, Mississippi (Washington County)

 

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In its heyday the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elk, No. 148 Lodge, also known as the "Cotton Pickers" Elk Lodge, was the social center for Greenville. Originally chartered in 1890, the "Cotton Pickers" built their once proud Neo-classic home in Greenville in 1906 and opened the doors in 1907. The Greenville Times of February 16, 1907, described the building as including a billiard hall, a barbershop, and a full library decorated with rare and expensive oil paintings and as being lighted by both gas and electricity. The "Cotton Pickers" Lodge has been converted many times since the Elks left. Now the home of the Mississippi Action for Community Education (M.A.C.E.), an organization committed to the preservation and education of African-American culture, the building is in urgent need of help. In the 1990's, M.A.C.E. and other concerned citizens saved the building several times from the bulldozer and had the building designated a Mississippi Landmark in 2002. If care is not taken soon to restore the building, the city could force demolition.

2009 Update - In Progress
M.A.C.E. has begun working with Greenville’s newly-formed Historic Preservation Committee and the local Economic Development Center to raise the estimated $1 million necessary for restoration.

 


First Christian Church
1950

Jackson, Mississippi (Hinds County)

 

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The firm of N.W. Overstreet, one of Mississippi's most prolific architectural offices, designed First Christian Church, constructed in the early 1950s. The church was designed in the Gothic Revival style, and is the only building remaining at the corner of State and High Streets as the other buildings have been removed for surface parking.

First Baptist Church purchased the building when the First Christian congregation moved to another location in Jackson.  When word of First Baptist's original intentions to demolish the building got out, a groundswell of local support surfaced to save the building.

All of the decorative stained and leaded glass windows, original pews, woodwork, and the organ, have been removed from the building. If another use is not found for the building, another of Jackson's architectural treasures will be lost and a gateway into the downtown will be diminished.

2009 Update - In Progress
The First Baptist Church changed its mind on the demolition of the building and had it designated as a Mississippi Landmark in April of 2003, but it still is sitting vacant. They have completed engineering studies on the building and are looking at possible ways to reuse the building.

 


J.Z. George Law Office
circa 1838

Carrollton, Mississippi (Carroll County)

 

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the J. Z. George Law Office in Carrollton is important for its association with James Z. George, the state's most dynamic leader in the Reconstruction era. George set up practice in this law office, which was reputedly constructed c. 1838, and occupied the office throughout the majority of his long and illustrious career-which included serving as chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee in 1875, when he directed the political campaign that ended Reconstruction in Mississippi. He became chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1879, and from 1881 until 1897 served in the U.S. Senate, where he introduced the bill to create the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Recognized as one of the most brilliant constitutional lawyers of his day, George is accorded chief responsibility for the 1890 Mississippi Constitution.

George's vernacular Greek Revival law office is vacant and suffers from deterioration.

2009 Update - SAVED
George’s vernacular Greek Revival law office is still vacant but the owner (a George descendant) has restored the building. 

 


 

(Old) Hattiesburg High School
1911 & 1921

Hattiesburg, Mississippi (Forrest County)

 

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The old Hattiesburg High School actually consists of two buildings, the rear section built in 1911, and the more imposing and highly decorated section on the front constructed in 1921. Robert E. Lee, a popular and prolific Hattiesburg architect, designed the front addition in the Jacobethan style, a style thought to be more "cheerful" than the Neoclassical and Collegiate Gothic styles. One of the more whimsical features of the building is the presence of separately labeled "Girls" and "Boys" entrances on the front. The school, like many downtown schools around the state, was closed in the 1960s, and the building subsequently served as offices for the school district, and later as an antiques mall. The large structure has stood vacant and deteriorating for several years and is threatened by neglect and vandalism. The Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association owns the building and would like to redevelop the building but funds have been limited.

2009 Update - In Progress
The Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association acquired the building in 2003 and has teamed with the Southern Mississippi Arts and Restoration Team to further restore the building. 

The building’s restoration has experienced two major roadblocks since that time. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina did tremendous damage to the building, necessitating roof replacement using grant money from the Community Heritage Grant program and the Hurricane Relief Grant Program. Then, as construction continued in 2007, arsonists using liquid accelerant completely burned the interior of the front building. Firefighters were only able to save the façade. (The arsonists have been convicted and are now in prison.) There is $1.7 million left from the Community Heritage Grant received a few years ago, but HHDA needs an extra $100,000 to meet the $1.8 million construction cost. The HHDA is currently at 30 percent of its goal and is still working on fund raising. Construction is underway, though, and the façade stabilization is expected to be completed in November 2009. At the conclusion of the project, which is expected to take three more years, the building will be used by the University of Southern Mississippi College of Arts and Letters for classroom and performance space.

 


Historic Cemeteries
Statewide; example, Pearlington Cemetery, Pearlington (Hancock County)


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Historic Cemeteries statewide are faced with vandalism, theft, neglect, and erosion from the elements. Lack of funds for cemetery maintenance is an increasing concern, especially with privately owned and family cemeteries. These cemeteries are too important to lose, as many of them contain exquisite marble and stone monuments and highly detailed ironwork.

Pearlington Cemetery
One of the oldest cemeteries in Hancock County, Pearlington Cemetery is believed to date to the territorial period, but the earliest marked grave is 1824. The cemetery contains the graves of some of the earliest and most prominent settlers in Hancock County, including that of General George H. Nixon, who was a veteran of the War of 1812, and was elected to the first Mississippi State Legislature. The cemetery association has limited funds to maintain the cemetery, which has suffered at the hands of vandals who have broken headstones and stolen gates, benches, urns, and statues.

2009 Update - In Progress
In November of 2004, MHT hosted a Cemetery Preservation Workshop in Biloxi to help people deal with these issues.  The event attracted people from all over the state to attend educational sessions led by speakers from around the nation.  The workshop served as a great resource for participants to learn about the many aspects of cemetery preservation.

Numerous cemeteries across the state are still suffering from vandalism and neglect; however there are some bright spots like the restoration of the Biloxi City Cemetery after extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina. 


Indian Mounds
100 B.C. - 1700 A.D.

Statewide

 

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Most of the Indian Mounds in Mississippi are on privately owned land. As a result, many mounds in the state have been irreparably damaged or completely destroyed by modern development and looting. Indian mounds therefore are critically endangered cultural sites.

Mississippi mound sites mark centers of social and political authority. Every mound has its own chapter to tell in the unfolding story of the human past. Opportunities to discover more about these mounds and their builders disappear daily as erosion, farming, urban development, and looting continue to degrade these sites. Untold numbers of the old monuments have already been lost, and secrets of our nation's past have vanished with them. The mounds that remain stand as a testament to the vitality, diversity, and creativity of their makers, who developed the complex societies of long ago. It is up to us to protect the mounds that are left so that future generations can continue to experience the wonder of these dramatic memorials of ancient times.

2009 Update - In Progress

There has been progress made the development of a tour of Indian Mounds in Mississippi, and the opening of a Visitor Center at the Pocahontas Mound, on-going excavations by University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University and University of Southern Mississippi across the state. Unfortunately several mounds on private property across the state have been bulldozed to avoid any state land marking of the mounds. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History continues to monitor the Indian Mound sites across the state they are aware of to make sure further destruction does not occur.

 


The Robert Johnson Birthplace
circa 1905

Hazlehurst, Mississippi (Copiah County)

 

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Robert Johnson was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, May 8, 1911, but spent much of his early life in levee camps and on plantations in the northern Delta. Johnson began playing harmonica and associating with older blues musicians and later abandoned the harmonica for the guitar.

Many have dubbed Robert Johnson the father of modern rock and roll, and he is considered one of the most prolific artists of the early blues musicians. Although he did not live long enough to become as popular as many other blues artists, his music continues to influence musicians. Popular covers of his songs have been recorded by modern artists such as Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and many more.

Not only was Johnson a legendary bluesman, he was the subject of legend. Robert Johnson is supposed to have traveled to the crossroads near midnight to sell his soul to the devil, in exchange for being able to play anything on the guitar.

His birthplace was constructed circa 1905 and was moved nearly a mile from its original location when the interstate highway was constructed. The property is currently vacant and is rapidly deteriorating.

2009 Update - In Progress
In 2007, a local government agency began negotiating to purchase the house and preparing architectural drawings to show how the house will be restored. Plans are to move the house into the City of Hazlehurst; however, funding for the project has been an issue.  

 


Rodney Presbyterian Church
1832

Rodney, Mississippi (Jefferson County)

 

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Few today can imagine as they drive through the tiny hamlet of Rodney that this was once a thriving river town, considered so full of possibilities that it almost became the capital of Mississippi.

Rodney Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1832, in the Federal style, extremely rare in religious architecture in the state. The building witnessed the rapid growth of the town in the 1840s and 1850s, as well as the slow decline, after the Mississippi River changed its course in the 1860s. The church even saw a bit of action during the Civil War as the Union gunboat USS Rattler bombarded the town with shells, which left scars on the church building that can still be seen today. By the turn of the century, Rodney's population had declined considerably, and in 1923, the church, with a congregation of only sixteen members, lost its last pastor.

The Mississippi United Daughters of the Confederacy obtained the building in 1966, receiving a grant to restore it. Since then, however, funds to maintain Rodney Presbyterian have been low, and the building, among the oldest surviving churches in Mississippi, has slipped into another period of decline and is threatened by deterioration from the elements.

2009 Update - In Progress
The Rodney Foundation, current owners of the property, is presently reorganizing and gearing up for fund raising.

 


Tivoli Hotel
1927

Biloxi, Mississippi (Harrison County)

 

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The Tivoli Hotel is one of the few remaining Grande Dame resorts of the 1920s - a roaring time when the Mississippi Gulf Coast was known as the American Riviera. The hotel was featured as an apartment hotel with 64 guest rooms on four floors. The first floor contained a striking barrel-vaulted lobby with a magnificent ballroom to one side and the large dining room to the other.

According to the newspaper accounts the Tivoli opened "in a whirl of dancing, a kaleidoscopic blaze of color and a musical festival of barbaric jazz."

Through the years, many attempts have been made to restore the building to its former glory, including plans to turn it into a halfway house, a resort, and a health center. Despite these efforts, the building still sits empty, waiting to be called a Grande Dame once again.

2009 Update - Lost
Through the years, many attempts were made to restore the building to its former glory. However, despite those efforts, the building sat empty and deteriorating. During Hurricane Katrina, the hotel suffered damage from a casino barge that slammed into it.  According to engineers, the structure was salvageable; however the owner decided to have the building demolished during the clean-up efforts. It was finally demolished in May 2006.

 


The W.J. Quarles House - "Greenvale"
1894

Long Beach, Mississippi (Harrison County)

 

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Known as the "Catalyst for the development of Long Beach," W.J. Quarles moved his family to Long Beach from Tennessee in 1884. Mr. Quarles was responsible for many firsts for Long Beach including organizing the first school in Long Beach in the front part of his house; building the first dry goods store; serving as postmaster when the first post office was set up in his store;and beginning the truck farming industry in Long Beach.

The second home of the Quarles family, better known as "Greenvale," was built in 1894. For years the house stood as one of the city's jewels and was known by some as the birthplace of Long Beach. In 1969, Hurricane Camille destroyed the first and second story gallery. Later in 1998, Hurricane George further damaged the house.

Now the house, which is vacant, is at the mercy of vandals and the elements. The family still owns the home and would like to see it restored but does not have the funds to do so. They are also facing increased pressure to sell the property for commercial development, which requires demolition of the house.

2009 Update - In Progress

In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, the 5th grade Discovery students from Quarles Elementary began actively trying to save the Quarles house through an activity called Project Citizen. Through their efforts, the Quarles house was cleaned out, and it also received a new roof through MHT’s Pilot Stabilization Program. In March 2009, student volunteers landscaped the grounds. In 2009 the owner of the house passed away and the house went to his heirs located out of state.  The future of the house is in jeopardy if the heirs decide to sell this historically important Long Beach property. 

 


 

View other 10 Most lists by clicking on the year:

  1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009


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