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South Mississippi home to 2 of state's endangered historic places

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDThe Phoenix Naval Stores Office on Creosote Road in Gulfport is one of the few buildings remaining from this once thriving lumber industry. After the plant closed, the office was converted into a residence. It is on the Mississippi Heritage Trust's 10 most endangered historic places in Mississippi.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDThe Phoenix Naval Stores Office on Creosote Road in Gulfport is one of the few buildings remaining from this once thriving lumber industry. After the plant closed, the office was converted into a residence. It is on the Mississippi Heritage Trust's 10 most endangered historic places in Mississippi. SUN HERALD

Hancock County's Jourdan River School and the Phoenix Naval Stores Office in Gulfport's Turkey Creek neighborhood are on this year's 10 most endangered places in Mississippi list.

The list is produced annually by the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

The list was announced Thursday in Jackson. Mississippi Heritage Trust representatives said they release the list of the state's 10 most endangered places each year in order to try to save them before they are lost to time.

Mississippi Heritage Trust executive director Lolly Barnes said the list is published to educate residents on which locations they can help save.

"Without knowing what the building is, it's just a dilapidated structure," she said. "This form of education allows the buildings to be seen for the historical sites they once were."

Barnes said the list also helps find partners to make restoration possible.

"Financing and construction opportunities have a much higher rate of being found throughout this process," she said.

Nominated properties are presented to a panel of judges who determine which go on the list.

"Both of these locations should be saved," Barnes said. "They have an extensive history that impacted their areas."

Jourdan River School

Loggers found the abandoned building near the Jourdan River in 2013. The school, built in 1929, was the center of learning for area black students until schools were desegregated after the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Fifty years of neglect had left the school badly deteriorated. The elements have taken their toll on the one-room wooden structure; the windows and front porch are destroyed.

Phoenix Naval Stores Office

The Phoenix Naval Stores Office was once the epicenter of the booming timber industry in Mississippi until a massive explosion in the 1940s killed 11 men and closed the plant. The building is one of the few remaining relics of the state's timber history. Hurricane Katrina damaged it badly in 2005. It had been vacant for 20 years until Turkey Creek activist Derrick Evans bought it to save it from demolition. A group is seeking funding to restore it and turn it into a community center for the nearby Turkey Creek neighborhood.

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