An initial survey has already been done for Depot, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Pittsboro, Pontotoc and Washington streets and Pinson Square and has been submitted to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). Public input and support is now being sought for the designation.
“We will have people from the MDAH come and explain this to the community and key leaders,” said Joyce East, Executive Director of Houston Main Street program. “I think it will be great if our downtown is on the National Register.
“I feel sure our community will be for it and we want them to be informed and involved,” said East. “I am also sure Main Street will be for it, too.”
The nomination came about as part of the construction of a cell tower in downtown Houston this fall.
“We thought this would be an adverse effect on the historic character of the town,” said Bill Gatlin of MDAH. “Since the tower could not be moved elsewhere, the tower company agreed to ‘mitigate’ the adverse effect by conducting a survey of historic resources and completing a National Register nomination for downtown Houston.”
Gatlin said the nomination will be presented to the state review board in March and he hopes to hold a town meeting or at least contact property owners about the designation.
“National Register designation is an honorary designation and does not limit owners use of the property,” said Gatlin. “They are free to make any alterations they want without seeking approval from anyone.
“I want them to know this,” Gatlin added. “I also want them to know that properties that are listed on the National Register are eligible for federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits.”
East pointed out Houston’s Carnegie Library and the Tabb Home are already on the National Register and there has been an effort to have the Houston Post Office also placed on the list.
“Houston’s downtown was laid out by our founder, Mr. Pinson who was also a surveyor,” said East. “The square is flanked by 94-foot wide streets and the adjoining streets are 64-feet wide. I can’t think of any other downtowns in our area that are so well laid out and so neatly designed.”
More than 70 properties have been identified as falling in the area to be included on the National Register.
Gatlin said being placed on the National Register would benefit Houston and he urged people to comment either for or against the designation.
“We think this is a great opportunity for Houston,” said Gatlin. “We will have good documentation of the historic resources and it may create some economic development opportunities.”
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History can be contacted at P.O. Box 571 Jackson, MS 39205-0571 or by calling 601-576-6850.
Houston became the 47th Main Street City in the state in 2004. Officially titled at Historic Hometown Houston, Houston’s Main Street Program operates under the umbrella of CDF Charities, Inc., and is partners with the Chickasaw Development Foundation. Historic Hometown Houston can be reached at P.O. Box 505, Houston or by calling 456-2321.