Historical sites along the Hurricane Katrina battered Mississippi Gulf Coast are among 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi.
The list was released on April 26 by the Mississippi Heritage Trust.
The three coastal counties of Harrison, Hancock and Jackson were grouped as the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the 2007 list.
“The whole coast is in danger of its historical character changing,” MHT’s Executive Director David Preziosi said. “The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a group listing because we feel all three counties face similar threats. It would be too difficult to identify one site on the coast.
“Obviously, we all know the coast will be changing, and we just hope that, as it changes, people keep in mind the historic buildings that did survive and incorporate them into new developments or let them stand on their own.”
Many other Katrina-damaged sites were salvageable but Preziosi said when FEMA offered the unprecedented option of demolishing private homes at government expense, many owners signed up, some citing insurance nonpayment.
Congress has provided Mississippi with $26 million through the Hurricane Relief Grant for Historic Preservation program for hurricane-marred states. Work is expected to begin this summer on homes and other structures, all at least 50 years old, that received grants.
“Hopefully, when these projects start they will see how successful they are and additional monies for historical preservation will come,” Preziosi said.
“We hope putting the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the endangered list will galvanize people to work toward saving what is left. Everything is in such a perilous condition now with developers coming and people having to make tough decisions about selling these wonderful places.”
Since the MHT list started in 1999, Preziosi said preservation successes included Cutrer Mansion in Clarksdale, Keesler Bridge and the Irving Hotel (now The Alluvian) in Greenwood and the Cedars in Jackson.
The one loss was the Tivoli Hotel in Biloxi, destroyed when the Grand Casino barge slammed into it during Katrina.
A photographic exhibit of the 2007 list will travel the state to raise awareness about the endangered sites. Its first stop is the William F. Winter Archives and History Building June 9 through July 16.
Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com and The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com
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