Future Of A Historic Home At A Standstill Because Of Its Past

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – To demolish or not to demolish?

That’s the question surrounding a 100 plus year-old home in Columbus.

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The answer is standby, for now.

The Columbus Redevelopment Authority owns the home and the property that sits in the Burns Bottom District.

The home sits along the five blocks the group purchased for a redevelopment project.

The future of the home is at a standstill because there’s a debate about its past.

Built in the early 1800’s, the home has been vacant for quite some time.

Its prime has come and, sadly gone.

Now, its future is a subject of conversation.

“It is old, but is it historically significant? And that’s what the Department of Archives will have to determine, and so you know, at this point, we’re looking at it. It’s an eye sore. It’s dangerous. Vandals have already gone in, they’re stealing property out of it,” says Columbus Redevelopment Authority Board President, John Acker.

The Columbus Redevelopment Authority says their research shows the home is not registered as a historic landmark, which is why they had plans to move forward with demolition.

Acker says they believed they took all the right steps to do that, but it was recently presented to them, that might not be the case.

“I think the biggest thing, the facts on this, is this home was not in the deed, the property deed. There was no historical registry, so when we did our due diligence and our legal folks looked at it, they said hey there’s nothing on the deed that says this has any historical significance, so that’s what we went by,” says Acker.

Historian Rufus Ward says the house does in fact sit on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Google and look it up the National Register, look at the Burns Bottom Historic District and this house will appear,” Ward explained. “It is on the National Record of Historic Places and before any governmental body can do anything to harm it, they have to go through a permitting process with the State Department of Archives and History.”

Ward says he hates to see any historic home torn down, but sometimes understands it’s necessary.

However, he thinks the home could be saved.

“This is one of the oldest streets in town and this is the last surviving antebellum home on this street and if it were restored, even just cleaned up, it would be an asset and somebody would take it over,” says Ward.

CRA is now working with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to make sure they are doing everything by the book.

Acker says plans are on hold, until the department gives them a green light to proceed with their plans to tear down the home.

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