Thursday, November 9, 2006
Carter heads preservation office on coast
By SUE WATSON
Chelius Carter of Holly Springs has been selected to run Preservation House, a field office in Biloxi set up by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to help Gulf Coast residents with applications for grants to restore public and private homes and structures.
Federal monies, $26 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior, became available to Mississippi Coastal residents who need help to restore and preserve historic structures damaged by Hurricane Katrina, Carter said.
The money will be used to stabilize and restore historical structures already listed on the National Register of Historic Homes or those eligible for listing on the register, he said. The money will be spent over the next two years.
Ninety percent of the funds go to the Gulf Coast Heritage area and 75 percent of that will be spent on owner-occupied houses, he said. Structures of historic significance that are not covered by insurance or other grant funds are potentially eligible for these dollars, he said.
The field office in Biloxi is funded by another portion of the Congressional relief grant.
Former Mississippi Governor William Winter, a trustee and president of the MDAH board of directors, told the Biloxi Sun Herald several weeks ago the grant will help put people back in their homes sooner.
Structures not listed on the National Register may be eligible because of their historic, architectural or cultural importance, Carter said.
“The intent of the field office is to get as many people back on their feet and back in houses by helping with the historic aspects of the property,” Carter said.
MDAH recently announced an emergency grant of $250,000 to stabilize the Pointe-Krebs-La Pointe Home at the Old Spanish Fort in Pascagoula, built around 1718, still standing but heavily damaged by wind and surge.
Also applying for assistance are the people of Turkey Creek in Gulfport, a black community founded by freed slaves. Turkey Creek residents are asking for relief money based on the community’s potential for designation as a cultural heritage community.
A $100,000 emergency grant will go to rehabilitate the 1928 Pass Christian Colored School, now known as the Randolph School.
Properties located in Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, George, Stone and Pearl River counties will be given preference for these monies.
The $26 million is Mississippi’s share of a $40 million emergency appropriation from Congress to be spent on homes damaged by Katrina last year.
Carter said restoration funds will not go directly to the property owner but the monies will be used to pay engineers, architects and contractors to do the restoration work in accordance with preservation guidelines laid down by the Department of Interior.
“This grant is primarily about saving historic homes and getting people back into them,” he said. “These could be houses of indigenous style to the Gulf Coast, such as a Creole cottage. No famous person has to have lived there or any historical event has had to have taken place there. We’ve lost so many of those and other architectural styles that the ones that are left are precious.”
Mississippi’s congressional delegation provided the leadership to get the federal hurricane relief preservation grant for the Gulf States with the largest share going to Mississippians via MDAH.
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