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