Mississippi’s Historic Tax Credit
Nominated by the Mississippi Heritage Trust on behalf of the many communities that are depending on the state historic tax credit to save their treasured historic places.
Download a copy of the Economic and Fiscal Effects of the Mississippi Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program, An Overview for Decision-Makers. prepared by the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at the request of Philip Gunn, J.D., Speaker of the House, this report was released in September 2015.
Enacted in 2006 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi’s historic tax credit has made a world of difference in getting from “what if?” to the ribbon cutting. In the ten years since its adoption, the 25% state historic tax credit has been used to save 252 historic places, stimulating a total of $239,576,690 in historic rehabilitation expenditures. Mississippi’s investment of $59,900,000 in state historic tax credits has incentivized an additional $45,793,040 in federal historic tax credits and $173,400,000 in direct private investment to rehabilitate historic buildings in the state. Every dollar of investment that Mississippi has made in historic tax credits has leveraged $4.66 of rehabilitation construction investment in the state.
The state tax credit has played a critical role in helping to save buildings that had been listed as endangered, including the King Edward Hotel in Jackson and the Old Pascagoula High School. In addition to commercial rehabilitations, Mississippi’s historic tax credit can also be used for residential restorations, with 122 homeowners taking advantage of this incentive to restore their historic homes. This investment will help to ensure that Mississippi’s rich heritage of beautiful, historic neighborhoods will be there for future generations to cherish.
With the failure of the state legislature to increase the $60 million dollar cap on the state historic tax credit during the 2015 legislative session, this popular and effective program has run out of funding. The loss of the state historic tax credit puts historic preservation projects large and small in jeopardy.
Currently, there are twenty projects that have applied to the program that will require a minimum of $9,340,000 in tax credits. The decision to move forward with many other great preservation projects, like Calvary Baptist Church in West Jackson, depends on funding from state historic tax credits.
Pictured: Row one – Cooley Mill Building, Starkville; Old Federal Courthouse, Jackson; Calvary Baptist Church, Jackson. Row two – Hotel Lamar, Yazoo City; Edison Walthall Hotel, Jackson; Deposit Guaranty Building, Jackson. Row three – McRae’s Meadowbrook, Jackson; Paramount Theater, Clarksdale; Blu Buck Mercantile; Water Valley.
Grenada Airfield Hangar
Nominated by the Save the Airport Hangar Committee, Grenada Historic Preservation Commission.
Owned by the City of Grenada, the Grenada Airfield Hangar was built in 1943 and opened in February of 1944. Originally in operation during World War II, the airfield hangar served as home to the 443rd Air Support Command, 63rd Troop Carrier Group, 877th Airborne Engineering Batallion, 10th Troop Carrier Group, and the 809th Air Force Unit. Still in use today, the Grenada Airfield Hangar is one of the few surviving wooden hangars.
The Grenada Airfield Hangar is suffering from long-deferred maintenance, with severe roof damage and inoperable doors. There has been discussion about demolishing the building, but the Save the Airport Hangar Committee is working with the City of Grenada to raise funds for the restoration of the building.
2017 Update - In Progress
The City of Grenada has received funding from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program to begin the restoration of the Grenada Airfield Hangar.
Hugh Craft & Son Surveying Office
Nominated by Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs
Hugh Craft came to Holly Springs in 1839 as a contract surveyor for the Federal government and the American Land Company to survey the newly opened Chickasaw Cession. After the American Land Company folded, Craft stayed in Holly Springs and started his own private surveying firm, working on much of the earliest land transfers in Holly Springs and North Mississippi. Constructed prior to 1846, the Hugh Craft & Son Surveying Office is a rare example of an early professional office. Originally located at the intersection of North Memphis Street and Gholson Avenue, the building was relocated to its present site when City Hall was built in 1925. Owned by the City of Holly Springs, the building currently sits vacant and in need of repair.
In July 2015, the Holly Springs Board of Alderman voted to demolish the Hugh Craft & Son Surveying Office to create parking or green space. Since that time, the City of Holly Springs has stated that it is working to find funding to restore the building, but the vote to demolish the structure has not been officially reversed.
2017-Update In Progress
The City of Holly Springs has no desire to demolish this important piece of Marshall County’s history; therefore, it is no longer threatened. The City has made some structural repairs and restored the back porch. There is still some work to be done before the building is fully restored.
Jourdan River School
Nominated by Community Wakeup and Men and Women of God Ministry
When loggers cutting trees near the Jourdan River in 2013, they uncovered a forgotten piece of history, the Jourdan River School. Also known as the Kiln Colored School, the one-room wooden schoolhouse was constructed in 1929 and served as a center of learning for African-American students until school desegregation in the 1950s. Today, the Jourdan River School is one of few remaining African American schools in South Mississippi.
Abandoned to the elements for over fifty years, the Jourdan River School is sadly deteriorated. While missing its windows and front portico, the building is still structurally sound and could be saved.
2017 Update-No Progress
Nominated by Ella Goldsmith
“The Church of Christ is the Only One. All is Welcome. Jews and Gentiles. Here at Margaret’s Gro. & Mkt. And Bible Class.”
When Margaret Rogers married the Reverend H.D. Dennis in 1979, he committed himself to transforming her simple country store on Highway 61 into a wonderland of color and form to share his ministry. Using inexpensive materials such as cinder blocks, Christmas lights, Mardi Gras beads, and artificial flowers, the Reverend Dennis shared his theological views with visitors from around the world through his creative vernacular of artwork.
Since the Reverend and Margaret Dennis passed away several years ago, Margaret’s Grocery has been left to deteriorate. The roof is in poor condition and the many colorful signs, sculptures and ornaments are slowly being lost to time.
2017 Update-In Progress
The Mississippi Folk Art Foundation, dedicated to preserving and protecting Mississippi folk art, has started a Go Fund Me campaign to save Margaret’s Grocery. As of September 28, 2017, the organization had raised $2,985 toward its goal of $20,000. To donate, click here.
Nominated by the Historic Natchez Foundation
Built in 1855 as the residence of the Henry Shaw family, Melmont was designed by James McClure with characteristics of both the Greek Revival and Italianate styles of architecture. An attorney from Louisiana, Colonel Henry Basil Shaw built the house for his wife Mary Elizabeth Lattimore Shaw, and the house’s name derives from her initials M.E.L., and mont the French word for mountain, a nod to the house’s prominent location on top of a large hill. Descendants of the Shaw Family remained in the house into the early twentieth century, when it is likely the new owners undertook the remodel of the interior in the Colonial Revival style.
One of the many great suburban villas built during this period, Melmont is now surrounded by homes largely built in the early twentieth century, though it still maintains much of its original acreage and context. In addition to the main house, the original two-story frame slave quarters and kitchen still stands, one of only a handful of surviving examples in the region.
Years of neglect have taken their toll on Melmont. Modern modifications, including the use of Portland cement to repair the stucco, have caused additional damage. The load-bearing masonry walls are bowing near the base of the wall, and significant structural cracks run the entire height of the gable end walls. The lower windows are covered with plywood, while those on the second floor have been vandalized.
2017 UpDate- In Progress
Recently the owners of Melmont, the Stephens family, have with the help of preservation architect, Robert Parker Adams restored the foundation and structurally stabilized the house. Adams also conducted a master plan for the restoration of the building.
Old Wilkinson County Jail
Nominated by the Woodville Civic Club and Woodville/Wilkinson County Main Street Association
Constructed in 1929, the Old Wilkinson County Jail was designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style.
Covered in vines, the Wilkinson County Jail is in poor condition, with the tile roof collapsed in places. Without immediate action, this richly detailed building will be lost. The Wilkinson County Board of Supervisors has indicated that they would be willing to sell the building to a developer.
2107 Update - No Progress
Phoenix Naval Stores Office
Turkey Creek Neighborhood
Nominated by Turkey Creek Community Initiatives
Responsible for employing many African Americans from the nearby neighborhood of Turkey Creek, Phoenix Naval Stores was part of the once-bustling timber industry in south Mississippi. The nearby creosote plant was the scene of a massive explosion in the 1940s which killed eleven men. After the business closed, the office was converted into a residence. The Phoenix Naval Stores Office is one of the few buildings remaining from this once thriving industry.
Vacant for twenty years, the building was badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina. Community activist Derrick Evans purchased the building to prevent its demolition. A partnership between the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, the University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area and Turkey Creek Community initiatives is seeking funding to restore the building for its use as a community center.
Nominated by the Friends of the French Hotel
The French Hotel was constructed in 1858 by Dr. A.M. Arnold French, making it perhaps the oldest building in Senatobia. Dr. French and his wife owned and operated the hotel until his son, Jesse French, took over in 1912. Dr. French practiced medicine in Senatobia until 1903 and was awarded a gold medal in 1878 for his services rendered during the town’s yellow fever epidemic. The French Hotel is thought to have been the headquarters for General Nathan Bedford Forrest during the Civil War. Dr. French kept a hand-written description of inventory lost during the First, Second, Third, and Fourth raids of Senatobia.
Open to the elements, the French Hotel is in poor condition. The building is privately owned and the owners are willing to sell the property. Residents of Senatobia would like to see this historic place restored to once again become a gracious hotel.
2017 Update - No Progress
No significant progress has been made on the French Hotel to date, but the residents of Senatobia continue to look for different means to restore the old Hotel.
Nominated by Ron Hill
The Webb Depot was built in 1909 by the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad as a combination passenger and freight depot. A central part of life in this small Delta town for decades, the station was the junction of two different railroads coming from three directions.
Privately owned, the Webb Depot is in stable condition but will require an extensive restoration to bring it back to life. Community activists in Webb would like to restore the building for use as a civic space, such as the Oxford Depot or the Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum, located in the historic depot in Cleveland.
2017 Update - No Progress
The Webb Depot appears to be in the same condition as it was two years ago.