5 honored for work to preserve historic structures

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 26, 2002

Joe Giambrone is reflected in the mirror above the living room fireplace of his home. (The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[08/24/02]Vicksburg Mayor Laurence Leyens challenged the members of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation to invest even more time, efforts and resources into preserving buildings that represent the best of Vicksburg’s past.

In addition to the program on moving the McDermott House and Leyens’s comments, the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation honored the owners of three homes and a commercial building for restoration efforts and the City of Vicksburg for the restoration of the fence around the historic Cedar Hill Cemetery.

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“We have bought older houses” before, said Mindy Giambrone, co-owner with husband Joe of the house at 2525 Cherry St. “We are happy we got this one and we are thrilled the foundation noticed it. We are real excited.”

“It is a great compliment,” said Joyce May, owner of the Walnut Hills Restaurant and the house she is renovating next door. “But I really haven’t done enough yet.”

May said she has no plans for the house once contractor Ricky Antoine completes the work, but said she hopes to have enough work done in time to open it for the November home tour.

Anna and Amzi Thames were honored for the rehabilitation of the interior and exterior of their home at 1406 Baum St.

“Obviously this means a lot to me,” Amzi Thames said. “I wish more people would move into town and restore old homes. It would help Vicksburg tremendously.”

In addition to being an honor for the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Vicksburg, North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young said the honor presented by the foundation for the Cedar Hill fence restoration is an honor for the high school-age youngsters who did the work.

“This is something they can be proud of,” Young said.

“I feel rewarded,” said Shouphie Habeeb about the honor he received for the work he has done on the building at 1211 Washington St.

He said the work is complete on the first floor and it is now ready for a new life as a commercial building. He said his intention was to restore the building to the condition it was in when built in 1886.

“I think it adds a lot to the area,” Habeeb said.

In making his challenge to foundation members, Leyens used photos of the new Sherman Avenue School to illustrate his desire to see more buildings that were more than efficient boxes with no windows.

“Our children deserve more,” he said, comparing the Sherman Avenue school and the building that stands on Washington Street with the building, the Piazza Hotel, that occupied the site in the 1500 block of Washington Street before the 1970s. “If you raise a generation of kids in a square box with no windows, how do they ever appreciate architecture?

“Historic preservation is not something we do as a social event and it’s not something we do as an extra,” he said.

Leyens said the foundation members should reach to the generations after themselves to get involved.

“I want to (urge) you to get involved in a more significant way in historic preservation,” Leyens said.