City architectural board to consider two houses|[05/05/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 5, 2007

IF YOU GO: The Board of Architectural Review’s Historic Preservation Commission will have a public hearing Tuesday at 4 p.m. at City Hall Annex to review an application of two Vicksburg properties, 2521 Drummond St. and 1022 Monroe St., requesting that they be designated Vicksburg Landmarks.

Bringing an old home back to its original grandeur is kind of like old-hat for David Mitchell and Andrew Dawson.

But, seeing a nearly dilapidated home go from run-down to restored hasn’t lost its appeal for the two men, who moved to Vicksburg from Dallas last year. The two bought the Bazsinsky House, an 1840 home at 1022 Monroe St., in October 2006. They plan to save the home from an unseen fate and share its history and charm with the public by making it a place for tours and events.

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&#8220It’s going to be a landmark to Vicksburg,” Dawson said. &#8220We want people to come into this house and understand what they see.”

The project, which began about three months ago, is his 12th renovation and Mitchell’s 13th. The two of them already have five properties they’ve re-done or are re-doing in Vicksburg – the Bazsinsky House, two homes on Belmont Street, the old Jaycees building on Washington Street and a home on Confederate Avenue, where they currently live.

But, none of the other properties has the kind of history that looms from the plaster walls and original hardwood floors of the home on Monroe Street.

&#8220We saw it two years ago and fell in love,” Dawson said. &#8220We knew it needed to be restored.”

Mitchell, who is the son of Vicksburg resident Camille Atwood, and Dawson have been keeping their project in perspective by referring to a 53-page history of the Bazsinsky family and the home.

To mark its historical significance, its owners are also going through the process to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects worthy of preservation. They also are seeking to have the home named a Vicksburg Landmark, which is a similar branding by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, making it worthy of rehabilitation, restoration and preservation. At 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Board of Architectural Review’s Historic Preservation Commission will review an application for the Bazsinsky House, along with that of the former home of Dr. and Mrs. Donald Hall Sr., at 2521 Drummond St., said Nancy Bell, director of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation. Bell has been helping prepare Dawson and Mitchell for the processes they must go through to have the property listed, they said.

&#8220We knew it was important to renovate the home,” Dawson said. &#8220We wanted to bring it back to where it needed to be.”

The two-story, columned brick home, just west of the Old Court House Museum, was built by Joseph Bazsinky, who also owned land south of town near what is aptly named Bazsinsky Road. He added a north wing on to his &#8220town home” when he and his wife, Adeline Levy Bazsinsky, had 17 children. The space allowed for 20 bedrooms, but was destroyed during the Civil War, during which the family moved to Clinton. When Joseph Bazsinsky died, the house was passed down to his daughter, Mellie, who willed the house to her nephew, Dr. Nathan Hans Lewis. His wife, Olga Douglas Lewis, known around town as &#8220Doug” or &#8220The Iris Lady” for the garden she kept on the north side of the home, lived there until her death several years ago. Her son, also named Doug Lewis, then sold it to Bruce and Marion Baldwin, who started the process of tearing out the interior. The Baldwins, owners of the Baldwin house on Crawford Street, had the house for about a year. Then, after two years of making offers, Dawson and Mitchell were able to purchase the house. Now, workers from local contractor Sanders & Hollingsworth are carefully repairing and restoring the slave-made brick exterior, in addition to the interior, which is complete with two marble fireplaces, an ornate arched interior doorway and decorative staircase. The renovation will include repairing the horsehair plaster walls that are original to the house and restoring furniture left behind, as well as old doors, flooring and fixtures.

&#8220We’re not going to cut corners. We’re going to do it right,” Dawson said. &#8220We want as much that’s original to the house as possible.”

Mitchell said they hope to have the project, which will include living space and offices upstairs, complete by the end of they year. The finished product will also have a commercial kitchen, a glassed-in porch, a ballroom and a bar.

&#8220Our goal is to return it to the Joseph Bazsinsky townhouse and garden it used to be,” Mitchell said. &#8220We want to make it available to the public for tours so they’ll be able to see the grandeur inside and out.”