MDAH Considers Founding Preservation Trade School

A shortage of trained tradespeople and artisans able to work on historic buildings has led MDAH to explore the establishment of a preservation trade school at Historic Jefferson College in Washington, Mississippi. The century-and-a-half-old buildings on the campus would provide students a unique laboratory to learn masonry and window restoration and other historic rehabilitation projects.

Staff of the departmentís Historic Preservation Division began developing the idea earlier this year in conjunction with the Natchez National Park and the National Park Service, the Mississippi Heritage Trust, and the Historic Natchez Foundation. In October, Robert Ogle, the dean of the Career and Technical Education program and director of the historic preservation program at Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colorado, was brought in as a consultant. Ogle recommended the program be incorporated into the curriculum of a local community college to offer an Associate in Applied Science degree for the course of study. Copiah-Lincoln Community College has joined the effort, and will participate in meetings in December with the original groups plus the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi School for the Arts in Brookhaven, and the economic development group Natchez, Inc. The goal of the December meetings is to develop a strategic plan and business model for the school.

Most historic preservation programs in the U.S. are at the graduate level. There are only four community colleges in the country that offer degrees in historic preservation, none of which are in Mississippi or the Deep South. The proposed preservation trade school curriculum at HJC combines a heavy emphasis on hands-on skills with classroom training in architectural history, preservation planning, archaeology, research, and more.

To learn more about the plans for the preservation trade school, contact Mingo Tingle at 601-576-6940.

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