Repairs to begin on Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center roof

Published 12:13am Thursday, June 6, 2013

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez is currently preparing to make repairs to the leaky roof at the historic Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center.

Historic Natchez Foundation Deputy Director Trevor Brown said construction bids for the project will be opened June 18, and he anticipates the work being completed by the end of the year.

The work, Brown said, will include repairs to the flat roof, replacing, repairing and widening gutters and repairing windows.

The repairs are being paid for by a $176,000 grant awarded to the city is 2011 from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s Community Heritage Preservation Grant program. The grant amount was given based on a 20-percent match of $44,000 contributed to the proposed project.

Former city planner Bob Nix asked Brown to administer the grant in anticipation of Nix’s retirement, Brown said. Brown previously administered MDAH grants prior to joining HNF.

Part of the grant was used last year to make emergency repairs to the stage at the center, and Brown said this round of repairs will finish those repairs.

The Natchez Festival of Music, which leases the building from the city, raised $22,000 in matching funds, of which $16,000 was contributed in just two days from former Natchez High School students. The Natchez Board of Aldermen pledged to match the funds.

The Martin center housed the school from 1927 until 1961, and classrooms were used there until 1963.

The festival is currently in talks with the city to renew the lease for the center, which expired in June 2012.

Mayor Butch Brown said he met with festival representatives Wednesday. Brown said he believes that unless the city decides to terminate the lease, the city and the festival can operate under the current agreement.

“My understanding is that even though a lease has expired, it can continue until terminated,” Brown said. “That may or may not be legal, but so far it has not hurt anybody to make that assumption.”

City Attorney Hyde Carby was out of town Wednesday, Brown said, and Brown could not reach him for his legal opinion on the matter.