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Time and Tide: The Hurricane Relief Grant Program

On September 29, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Ken P’Pool, Historic Preservation Division, for writing this post.

Katrina created the nation’s largest natural and cultural disaster, damaging or destroying thousands of historic buildings in south Mississippi. As described in earlier posts, MDAH worked closely with our preservation partners from across the state and nation to assess the damage to hundreds of buildings, prepare building stabilization plans for owners, assist in property clean-up, inform citizens of demolition alternatives, and marshal financial resources to aid preservation.

This coalition (particularly the Mississippi Heritage Trust, Mississippi Main Street Association, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and National Trust for Historic Preservation) also actively sought and secured grant funding to assist owners of National Register–listed buildings restore their properties, rather than demolish them. We secured state grants of $5.5 million from the Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program and federal grants of $27.5 million from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund. The latter program received strong support from Mississippi’s congressional delegation and represented the first time that Congress had authorized historic preservation funds for use in restoring privately owned historic properties damaged by a catastrophic storm.

 

The Mississippi Hurricane Relief Grant Program for Historic Preservation, which was created with these funds, assisted citizens, local governments, and non-profit organizations to preserve approximately 300 hurricane-damaged historic buildings significant in defining the unique architectural character and heritage of their communities. More than 4,000 construction jobs were generated in the process. While some of the grants assisted in restoring magnificent 19th- and early-20th-century mansions, such as the Schaeffer House in Pass Christian and the Swetman House in Biloxi, most of the grant funds were utilized to rehabilitate small cottages and modest owner-occupied houses listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, such as those in Gulfport’s Turkey Creek Historic District and in Bay St. Louis’s historic districts.

However, the program also assisted in preserving and restoring a number of public and institutional landmarks that are icons of the region’s rich history. The grant funds were often used to match or leverage moneys from FEMA, CDBG, and other private and public funding sources to restore important historic landmarks, such as:

  • Beauvoir in Biloxi
  • Bond-Grant House (Biloxi Main Street Program Headquarters)
  • Old Biloxi Library
  • Historic Carnegie Library in Gulfport
  • Gulfport City Hall
  • Gulf-Ship Island RR Depot in Gulfport
  • Rectitude Masonic Lodge in Gulfport
  • Soria City Masonic Lodge in Gulfport
  • Randolph School in Pass Christian
  • Hancock County Courthouse
  • Bay St. Louis Little Theatre (the historic Scafide Building)
  • 100 Men Association Building in Bay St. Louis
  • Magnolia State Supply Co. Building in Bay St. Louis
  • Waveland Civic Center (the Old Waveland School)
  • Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center, Ocean Springs
  • Walter Anderson Mural at the Ocean Springs Community Center
  • Charnley-Norwood House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), Ocean Springs
  • La Pointe-Krebs House (Old Spanish Fort), Pascagoula
  • Forrest County Courthouse
  • Old Hattiesburg High School
  • Bay Springs Rosenwald School, Forrest County
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Time and Tide: Learning from the Storm

On September 28, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

Department assessment teams worked after the storm to help libraries, museums, local governments, and other institutions stabilize their records, books, and artifacts. In the midst of this work, another recovery project was being developed to help people recover their family treasures and assist cultural institutions in conserving and repairing damaged artifacts in their collections.

Art conservation specialist Debbie Hess Norris of the University of Delaware spearheaded the Recovering Collections & Artifacts workshops, which brought conservation experts to Mississippi for a series of free workshops across the state from May through November 2006.

Teams of conservators and conservation graduate students from the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation led the series. They demonstrated how to assess, stabilize, dry, and clean damaged items ranging from photographs to textiles to furniture.

The workshops were sponsored by the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, MDAH, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Time and Tide: Coastal Records Recovery

On September 22, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

MDAH staff was able to recover some record books and other materials for freezing.  Freezing records stops the growth of mold and mildew, and gives staff time to find the proper conservator.  A freezer truck was rented in Gulfport and arrangements made for a storage freezer in Jackson to hold records from Bay St. Louis City Hall, Waveland City Hall, Secretary of State’s Office, Pass Christian City Hall, Pass Christian Historical Society and the O’hr-Okeefe Museum.  Once the records were stabilized they were sent to a conservator for cleaning and preservation.

Above:  September 15, 2005 Archives and Records Services division assessment teams and other Department employees’ recovered approximately 52 volumes of Bay St. Louis Mayor’s Council Minute Books.

Above:  Ann Frellsen and Bill Hanna clean minute books with a 50/50 alcohol and water solution before placing them in the archives van for transport.

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Time and Tide: Assessment Teams

On September 18, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

By the week of September 12, 2005, the MDAH Archives and Record Services Division received assistance from Ann Frellsen, staff member of the Preservation Office at Emory University, and Christine Wiseman, the Preservation Services Manager at Georgia Archives. They joined the Archives and Records Services Division assessment teams working at public libraries, county courthouses, city governments, museums, and historical societies on the Coast. The teams also made recommendations for cleaning, immediate preservation such as freezing or drying materials, and ways to protect employees from mold when handling materials.

Jackson County

Harrison County

Hancock County

The assessment teams wrote conservation reports and took photographs for each site. The reports included findings, salvaged materials, and recommendations to be used by the necessary staff.

Bay St. Louis City Hall conservation report

Bay St. Louis City Hall conservation report

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Time and Tide: Old Spanish Fort Museum Assessment

On September 15, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

Front of the Old Spanish Fort Museum building, September 12, 2005.

Front of the Old Spanish Fort Museum building, September 12, 2005.

September 12, 2005—two weeks after Katrina—the MDAH Archives and Records Services Division created damage assessment teams to assist public libraries, county courthouses, city governments, museums, and historical societies on the Coast.  The first team went to the Old Spanish Fort Museum in Pascagoula.  The museum is three miles from the beach and its backyard is the Pascagoula River.  The river backed up from Katrina’s surge, flooding everything in the area.  The water rose up to four feet in the museum damaging the building and its artifacts.

Due to the wide-spread devastation no recovery or damage assessments had been done at the museum.  Artifact cases were still sealed and frequently contained water resulting in mold, mildew, rust and other problems.  Many of the museum’s artifacts were irretrievably damaged.

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