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State history official tells 35 inclusion on Register good

[9/9/03]The National Register supervisor for Mississippi fielded plenty of questions Monday evening from residents of the proposed South Cherry Street Historic District.

After all, he was talking about bringing a federal program into their neighborhood.

The Department of Archives and History is set to nominate the historic district at its Sept. 18 board meeting in Jackson.

The proposed district stretches about nine blocks, from Bowmar Avenue to part of Harrison Street, and doglegs over to cover part of Chambers Street. The area includes 210 properties.

Richard Cawthon, architectural historian for the department of archives and history, stressed many times to about 35 gathered at the Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal that having a property on the National Register can only help it.

“The National Register does not place any restriction on private property,” he said. “It’s designed to recognize n I stress recognize n historic places all over the country.”

The register’s recognition allows qualified residents to receive a 20 percent tax credit on property meeting specifications. Properties eligible for tax credit are those used commercially, as a bed and breakfast or as rental property.

Cawthon also said many property owners like being listed on the National Register simply because it’s an honor. He said lots of people looking to move to Mississippi look specifically for houses listed on the register.

Dannie Weatherly, 1414 Chambers St., said she talked about her house being part of a National Register District to a real estate agent and is convinced it is a good thing.

“I cannot see any disadvantages,” she said.

Jesse and Mary Ellen Thomas, 2234 Drummond St., said they weren’t supporters of their neighborhood becoming part of the National Register before they heard Cawthon speak. And their minds didn’t change after the meeting.

Jesse Thomas said giving tax credits to people who own rental property encourages investors to buy up homes, turn them into sectioned apartments and rent them to people who don’t care about the neighborhood.

Residents against the proposed district joining the National Register must either send a notarized letter to the Department of Archives and History before the meeting or attend the meeting in Jackson. If fewer than 50 percent of property owners disagree with becoming part of the National Register district, then the nomination will be forwarded to the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., for approval.

Vicksburg has four other historic districts listed on the National Register.