Bandstand on Broadway needs helpPublished 12:06am Friday, January 10, 2014
Natchez is a special town, full of special places. We all have our favorites, usually somewhere connected to memories of times we’ve spent with loved ones or at special events.
Perhaps it’s a place of particular beauty, whether natural or man-made, or maybe somewhere completely unassuming, known only to us. There’s one place in Natchez that is special to most all of us, regardless of age or background. It’s been the scene of countless thousands of photographs over its 44 years, along with many hugs and kisses and loving embraces.
Weddings, proposals, family portraits and other special events too numerous to list have taken place here. Tourists from every part of the world have visited and taken in the beautiful view, photographed it and shared it with world.
The Katherine Grafton Miller Bandstand was dedicated on Oct. 14, 1969, and has been a fixture on the Natchez landscape for more than 44 years. Unfortunately, those years have been hard on the structure, and it’s now in desperate need of some attention; in fact, it’s in desperate need of rebuilding. Thankfully, there’s a project that’s finally begun with the objective of accomplishing that goal, but The Natchez Community Alliance needs your help.
Several years ago, Leadership Natchez built a pavilion in Duncan Park and had about $850 left over. They decided they wanted that extra to go toward touching up the Bandstand. The group then approached the Natchez Rotary Club for some help with the project, and Rotary agreed to get involved. Rotary eventually pledged up to $10,000 to the project, thinking it might be a larger task than originally thought.
We then had a request from the Natchez Community Alliance to join in as their project for 2013. This collaboration certainly made sense and has given us some wonderful resources upon which to draw. One such resource is the Master Gardeners, who have graciously offered to do the landscaping around the project upon completion.
We took on the task of studying what needed to be done in order to properly renovate the Bandstand and upon initial inspection, it was pretty obvious that all of the columns would have to be replaced, along with a great deal of the bottom portion as well.
After much research and consultation with various experts, we found someone to manufacture the new 8 inch octagonal columns at a length of 19 feet. The custom built glue-laminated and treated columns were ordered and eventually delivered at a cost of about $5,500. The installation of those columns we found would cost about $4,600.
That part of the project used up the Rotary club funds completely. The project was scheduled to begin this month, since the city had the Bandstand rented for many events up to that point. The construction is now underway!
The second part of the project is the reconstruction of the base portion of the structure as the decking and much of the substructure and skirting needs to be replaced, as well as the steps. The original Leadership Natchez funds, along with some generous help from Jimmy Smith at Home Hardware, will provide the materials needed to rebuild this crucial part of our beloved Bandstand.
Keep Natchez and Adams County Beautiful received a donation of 3,000 flower bulbs and a portion will be going to the Bandstand project. The rest will be in the tree wells throughout downtown.
However, quite a bit of labor will be required, and that’s where we need some serious help from the citizens and businesses of Natchez. The cost will be $6,844, and The Community Alliance is asking for your help. Please consider making a donation to this worthwhile project as construction is underway.
So many people in our community love this landmark; we can only hope that many of you will contribute to its restoration. If you’re willing to help, contact Curtis Moroney at 601-445-2475, John Holyoak at 601-446-8500 ext 602, or David Gardner at 601-445-7520.
Curtis Moroney is past president of The Natchez Rotary Club and member of the Community Alliance.