Two area projects get Archives grants

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 23, 2002

Area officials welcomed receipt of two Mississippi Department ofArchives and History grant awards, but lower funding levels couldresult in additional money coming from other sources in order topursue restoration projects.

Through its 2002 Community Heritage Preservation Grant program,the Mississippi Department of Archives and History awarded $85,000to the Mississippi School of the Arts Foundation and $250,000 tothe Copiah County Board of Supervisors.

The arts school funds will go toward restoration of theElizabeth Cottage on the Whitworth College campus while the Copiahfunds will be used to renovate the county’s historic courthouse,which celebrated its 100-year anniversary earlier this year.

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“We’re excited because we can save another historic structurethat’s important to Brookhaven,” said MSA Executive Director Dr.Vicki Bodenhamer.

MSA officials hope to use the restored Elizabeth Cottage as amuseum for Whitworth College memorabilia, an office of admissionsand recruiting and as needed housing for teachers, interns andothers on education retreats. The grant comes at a good time as thecottage is desperate need of repair, and as the school prepares toopen in the fall of 2003.

“Elizabeth Cottage is at the point something has to be done,”said Jennifer Jackson, the school’s director of development andpublic relations.

According to the description for the $108,000 project, immediatestabilization efforts are needed to prevent further deterioration.The description cited a collapsed ceiling, warped doors and damageto the siding and foundation.

The $85,000 grant amount was slightly less than the $86,400sought. Jackson was confident the difference could be added to the20 percent local match that is required as part of theapplication.

Copiah County Chancery Clerk Steve Amos was also excited to benotified about the grant funds.

“I’m glad to hear that. I’m happy about it,” Amos said.

The lower grant amount, however, leaves the county at a bit of astandstill, Amos said.

The county sought a $500,000 grant with plans to borrow another$500,000 to restore all parts of the courthouse. The plan was tostart with restoration of the upstairs courtroom, and that maystill be possible with the grant funds, Amos indicated.

Amos said he would be notifying the board of the grant award andthe county’s next step likely would be discussed the next boardmeeting on Dec. 30.

“We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and see what we’regoing to do,” Amos said.

The 2002 Mississippi Legislature authorized the issuance of $5.5million in bonds to fund the popular Community HeritagePreservation Grant Program.

Thirty-one grants, ranging from $85,000 to $450,000, wereawarded this year. Archives and History officials said thedepartment receives 73 applications totaling over $22 million ingrant requests.

“We are delighted with the response to this very popularprogram, which will enable the preservation of some of the mostsignificant historic buildings in the state,” said MDAH directorElbert R. Hilliard.

To be eligible for grants, buildings had to have been designatedas state landmarks prior to the application.

The grant awards will be paid to recipients on a reimbursablebasis. A cash match of 20 percent must be provided by the grantrecipients, MDAH officials said.

Hilliard expressed appreciation to the legislature for fundingthe program and to the various agencies for submittingapplications.

“We regret that we could not have funded more of these worthyprojects,” Hilliard said.