Bill Gatlin, of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, said there is a lot of mis-information about being named to the National Historic Register and he urged downtown business owner and residents to pursue the designation.
“This designation puts no limits on what the property owner can do to restore or repair their property,” said Gatlin. “You also don’t have to get approval from the state or federal government to repair or renovate your property.”
Gatlin did say if the downtown area goes on the National Register, property owners could be eligible for up to a 25-percent tax credit from the state for historic improvements and up to a 20-percent tax credit from the federal government.
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. 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 property owners have until that time to object to the designation. Gatlin said 52-percent of the 130 property owners in the district have to object to get the designation turned down.
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.