End of an era|Old Speed Street School coming down

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A permit has been issued by the City of Vicksburg to allow a contractor to tear down condemned apartments at Speed and Marshall streets.

Bogalusa, La.-based Will Branch Antique Lumber, will recycle material from the century-old property, including the bricks, wood floors and support beams. The demolition could begin in two weeks, legal counsel for the building’s owners said Monday.

City inspectors condemned the former Speed Street school in September after sewage was found backing up from pipes inside most of the 12 federally subsidized units. Wastewater that had saturated upper floors caved in ceilings on lower units. Additional structural damage discovered clinched the decision by the city to deem the building unfit for human habitation.

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The Mississippi Regional Housing Authority issued eviction notices for about 30 remaining residents in September when Marshall Street LLC, which purchased the building in February, did not immediately opt for public funds upon its purchase of the building earlier this year. A ground-up renovation was planned by project developers.

The three-story, brick building at 901 Speed St. was built in 1894 and housed Speed Street School until 1940, making it the last remaining 19th century public school building in Vicksburg. Its fall into disrepair can be traced only to recent decades, with its conversion in the late 1960s to rent-assisted living spaces under a number of different owners. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985.

Situated in a mixed-use area of old Vicksburg, the structure is not in the Vicksburg Historic District, where modifications to properties must meet the approval of the Board of Architectural Review. The district’s southern boundary runs parallel with Depot Street and the Cherry Street rail overpass, several blocks north of the Speed Street property.

As the Speed Street School is removed, tax credits are being sought by a prospective buyer to transform the former Carr Central High School on Cherry Street to apartments. A hearing on that process is set for tonight at 6 at First Baptist Church.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at dbarrett@vicksburgpost.com.