TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Preserving historic houses and other buildings is the focus of a three day conference taking place in Tupelo. As WCBI’s Allie Martin reports, the meeting brings together people from across the state to share ideas about how keep history alive and also spur economic development.
Whether they were built as residences, or commercial ventures, older structures have architecture and workmanship not found in modern construction. That’s why the Mississippi Heritage Trust is hosting the “Listen Up! Historic Preservation Conference” in Tupelo.
At this session, Chris Chain, of Renovations Mississippi, tells how he had a vision in the late 1980s to bring life back to downtown Columbus.
He renovated an older building, putting in apartments. Before long, restaurants and retail followed and it hasn’t slowed down.
“This is what you have to do to get your downtown vibrant again, you want to see those cars, spaces fill up downtown, this is what happens. You get people, 24 hours down there, and what happens is, now with all tenants you have a lot of businesses that feed off that,” Chain said.
More than 70 people have signed up for the conference, which includes lectures and tours of local historic buildings. Organizers say preserving old buildings not only captures history, but also helps the environment.
“The greenest thing we can do is to preserve an existing building because it embodies energy that was required to construct it and when we destroy it and dispose of materials, that burdens up more energy,” said Ken P’ool , with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Another session, that is especially relevant to Tupelo, will look at how communities can use historic preservation to recover from disasters.
”A friend of mine has a beautiful, historic cottage, farmhouse that has been in their family for five generations and I think she was told it really does need to be demolished, instead she already has the porch and front rooms rebuilt, so we don’t need to rush into removing structures that in the end can be saved,” said Doyce Deas, Chairperson of the Conference.
Conference participants will take a tour of historic buildings in the area on Tuesday.
The meeting wraps up with an awards luncheon Tuesday afternoon.