Heritage guild asks county to donate home on Adams St.

Published 9:00 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Heritage Guild of Vicksburg-Warren wants to preserve properties in the River City and they want to begin with the former justice court building.

Members of the non-profit organization met Monday with the Warren County Board of Supervisors to discuss the property the county owns on Adams Street. The guild would like for the board to donate the lot so that it can be refurbished and sold with the funds being used as seed money for other properties in the city the organization would like to rehabilitate.

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The Adams Street structure, which has not been occupied for more than a decade, meets the criteria of the guild as a structure with historical value and is in the historic district on a main tourist thoroughfare.

“We think it will be a win-win situation if you would consider deeding us that property so that we can rehab it, sell it and put it back on the tax rolls,” Dinah Lazor, one of three members representing the guild, said.

The guild has toured the building and read the engineering report and believe it will take at least $125,000 to bring it back to code requirements.

“But we feel like this would be an excellent building to bring our community together and recognize that Warren County has some of the most historical buildings, structures and sites in the state,” Lazor said.

The guild said refurbishing such structures will be a major benefit to the tourism industry and economic development in the area.

Supervisors Richard George asked if the guild would also be interested in the two adjacent properties next to the Adams Street structure. The guild would be interested in any properties the county donates.

Once refurbished, the guild says the building could be used for any number of things.

“It’s zoned commercial, but it’s also next to a bed and breakfast and a residence and across from two Mississippi landmark building,” Lazor said.

The guild has their eyes set on an abandoned pre-Civil War house across from the Academy of Excellence. The money from the sale of the Adams Street structure would be used for this building and “we are going to continue to invest in the community.”

Joyce Clingan said that Adams Street is one of the oldest streets in Vicksburg and one of the last brick streets in the city.

“It’s a scenic route of tourists,” Clingan said.

Once the guild has the deed from the county, Carol McMillin said they will be able to provide the board with a value analysis and best use for the property.

“It has to be multi-family dwelling, single-family dwelling or office space,” McMillin said. “There’s not necessarily another choice.”

Clingan said the guild is trying to make the area the best it can be.

“Let’s try and bring those younger people here who want to live in a small town and enjoy the small town comforts,” Clingan said.

Supervisor Richard George said the county is not in the business of refurbishing buildings they have no use for and the structure on Adams Street needs quite a bit of work. Rather than have the city charge the county to have the building torn down, it may be better to donate it to an organization that can refurbish it.

“This building is not going to be demolished,” George said. “We need to give it some serious consideration. Sometimes you get caught in a trap, you hate to lose your limb, but it’s a lot better than losing your life.”

Clingan added that Cain Ditto, who is with the Mississippi Archives and History, would like to assist the guild, short of funding, in their efforts to save historical structures in Vicksburg. The guild can also apply for grants through the MAH.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday approved applying for a $10,000 state Archives and History grant to help the guild stabilize the building if it gets it. The city will provide the $10,000 matching funds for the project.