Louisiana company wins bid to raze house at Ceres

Published 11:39 am Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Will Branch Antique Lumber, of Bogalusa, La., is Warren County’s choice to take down the Ceres Plantation House, which officials said Monday could begin within three weeks.

On Monday, the Board of Supervisors OK’d the company’s low bid to demolish the house, two barns and fences on the 40-acre property at Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex. Port commissioners recommended the firm after its $29,700 offer was lowest of 10 companies who sent in bids.

The company specializes in taking structures apart slowly, sometimes one brick at a time. In 2009, the company took down the former Speed Street School after it was condemned by the city, and the structure’s private owner chose Branch for the job.

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Branch said “the bricks to the fence” will be recycled for use in private homes with which his company deals.

Built in 1830 by the Flowers family, the house and surrounding land and structures have been eyed by the county and preservationists since it became part of the industrial park in 1986, for different reasons. Ridding the 1,300-acre park of the house has been a goal of port officials since the last private tenant moved out in 2009. A plant nursery had operated there from 1998 to 2007.

In 2010, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History denied an effort to have the house declared a Mississippi Landmark after the agency concluded not enough of the original architecture was left, among other factors.