Thursday, January 13, 2011
Main Street looks at landmark
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs Main Street Association is taking a look at the prospects of restoring the old police station and powerhouse, landmark structures that have lain in decline and disuse for years.
The old police station has not been used to house the Holly Springs Police Department since former chief Robert Burby asked to move out of the structure to a temporary location on the Mississippi Industrial College Campus several years ago. The police department, led by chief Robert Pearson, is now located in a newly remodeled facility on J.M. Ash Drive.
Holly Springs Main Street Association has assembled a design committee to include Holly Springs city officials, business owners, and experts with Mississippi Main Street-Northern Division to plan for the rehabilitation of the old structures.
Scott Emison, intern architect and volunteer with Mississippi Main Street, has volunteered to help the design committee at the request of Sam Agnew, director for Mississippi Main Street Association-Northern Division.
The area was a point of focus for commercial/residential mixed use in the downtown area north of Market Street and extending toward the Spring Hollow Park during planning charrettes several years ago in Holly Springs. Restoring the structures would pinpoint uses and increase the sense of safety in the park area.
“The ‘Old Powerhouse and Jail Building’ stands as a Mississippi Landmark identified by Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and is a very valuable asset to the City of Holly Springs and the State of Mississippi,” said Emison. “Its adjacency to the ‘Hollow’ and the park gives it good placement to serve as a public support structure for events and venues to promote the downtown central business district. The potential restoration of this building would not only restore a public artifact and historical core of the community, but would link the downtown square with supporting functions such as a tourism and chamber central office, potentially a flexible town meeting hall or conference center, and also an ‘open-air’ farmer’s market-type space below spilling out into the park.”
Emison said the goal of the tour of the site several weeks ago was to meet with Judy Smith, executive director of Holly Springs Main Street Association, and with city aldermen and officials to tour the building and start a discussion about future uses for the historical structure.
“My next phase of design will be to work with Sam Agnew and Judy Smith to create a proposed program and scheme for the building uses, and translate these functions into a schematic design package for the building to include a proposed exterior rendering, a proposed floor plan, and strategic marketing material to present to the city officials for review,” Emison said. “The future process will involve further developing the schematic plans for the building and working with the city to create a grant application package to be submitted for funding of the project.”
Emison is employed as a project manager with ArchitectureSouth in Tupelo.
Main Street board member Tim Liddy, who is also a member of the Historic Preservation committee, said one of the next steps toward the development of a plan would include gathering an oral history as well as pictures and documents that establish the uses of the old powerhouse and waterworks building.
“It housed the original pumps for the city water system and was used by the electric department as a station and by the fire department,” Liddy said. “Originally, it was all utility stuff and then changed to fire department.
“We are going to find some retired city workers and do another walk-through to get the historical information.”
It will be up to the city mayor and board of aldermen to decide what will be done, he said.
“We hope to find someone who worked there and who knows something about the recent history of the building,” Liddy said.
Someone who worked for the city in the building or who has pictures or information regarding its historical use as a utility department would be of most help in reconstructing the history of the structure, he said.
Anyone who has information or photos or other documents is asked to contact Smith at 662-551-8396 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harvey Payne, member of the Main Street board of directors and a city alderman, said the design study by Emison and Agnew is free.
“He and Sam will draw up some possible uses and once the Main Street Board looks at it, they will go before the city with their requests,” Payne said. “Having that building restored and occupied will make people using the walking trail feel safer, especially women.”
People do not usually feel safe in an area where there are unoccupied buildings, he said.
A farmers market could go into the bottom floor of the old police station where there are old fire station bay doors, he said.
“The first step is to look at a farmer’s market behind the building,” he said. “The bays in the old city garage below the old police station could be used for farmer’s market vendors.”
Andy McMillon has been elected as chairman of the board of Main Street for the year.
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