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State approves grant to put new roof on Haven

The Haven will get a new roof through the use of a Department ofArchives and History Mississippi Landmark Program grant.

Sha Walker, vice chairman of the “Save The Haven” committee ofthe Brookhaven Little Theatre, said the grant addresses the mostimmediate concern facing the troubled building.

“We need to get the building preserved from outside elements,”he said. “The building has a lot of needs. This is just one of manyprojects to improve the building.”

The nearly $75,000 grant will only be used for roof replacement,Walker said.

The current roof is at least 25 years old and is showing itsage, he said.

“It’s had work since then. They’ve done a good job patching andrepairing it over the years, but it’s beyond that now,” Walkersaid.

In addition to a completely new roof, the project includesremoving rotten roofing decks, gutter system improvements andasbestos abatement, if necessary.

“It’s an involved project,” he said.

Mingo Tingle, preservation specialist for the state Departmentof Archives and History, has been working closely with the BLTcommittee since the grant application was sent in.

“It’s in very dire straits,” Tingle said. “It will require a lotof work to get it done. I haven’t actually seen the roof, but I’veseen photographs of its condition.”

In fact, he said, The Haven’s application could not be grantedunder the program it was submitted for because Brookhaven is not aCertified Local Government Community. However, the departmentrecognized the need and shuffled the application to a similarprogram to help historic Mississippi Landmarks.

“We knew the Haven Theatre was in a state that it needed helpimmediately,” Tingle said.

The reshuffling placed the application under the MississippiLandmark Program, which has very limited funds to assist statehistoric structures, he said. The fund was created under anantiquities law passed in the 1970s, but only generates income offthe interest of the state’s initial investment.

“We were not able to fund The Haven through another program, sowe used what funds we had available,” Tingle said. “Fortunately,The Haven was listed as a Mississippi Landmark.”

The Mississippi Landmark Program is actually a little morestrict than being on the National Register of Historic Places, hesaid. State law protects any changes to the building and designeeshave to obtain a permit for any work done.

“That requirement isn’t there under the federal program. But, italso entitles the building to some grant programs not availablewithout that distinction,” Tingle said.

The grant requires a 20 percent match by the Brookhaven LittleTheatre. The grant is also for reimbursement of expenses, meaningBLT must spend the money itself before money can be drawn from thegrant.

Walker said the organization would be able to complete theproject under those requirements, although it may mean partneringwith local businesses and financial institutions to make theinitial investments. The work is expected to begin in mid- tolate-February after Walker and other BLT officers attend a class onhow to administer the grant, he said.

The Haven will continue holding fundraisers for the roof andother renovation projects, he said.