Historic foundation earns $160,000 grant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2001

The Historic Natchez Foundation received a surprise Tuesday – a $160,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

&uot;We are so excited,&uot; said Ron Miller, executive director of the foundation, which will use the money to begin restoration work on the old Natchez Institute building. The Institute, built in 1901, houses the foundation’s offices and collections of historic documents and artifacts.

The money is part of the Department of Archives and History’s Museum Grant Program, for which the state Legislature authorized $1 million for the acquisition, development, restoration or repair of museums.

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Eighteen other projects around the state also received grant money, but the Historic&160;Natchez Foundation’s award was the largest

The Wilkinson County Museum in Woodville received $7,000 for renovation and repair of its roof and exterior shutters.

Miller said the grant money gives the Historic Natchez Foundation a start in renovating and repairing the Institute, which was damaged by straight-line winds three years ago.

The grant money may also kick off a series of fund-raising campaigns by the foundation, including a capital campaign.

&uot;We’re really going to be asking the people of Natchez to contribute (to a project) for better storage and display of our collections,&uot; Miller said.

The foundation has been moving more towards display of its collections, Miller said, and in the past 12 months, it has displayed four separate exhibits.

In addition to considering a capital campaign, the foundation might apply for a Challenge Grant from the&160;National Endowment for the Humanities. Such a grant would provide matching funds, provided the foundation has three other new sources of funding. For example, if the proposed capital campaign raises $160,000, along with the Archives and History grant, the foundation would have to find one other funding source to get another $160,000 from the NEH.

Another long-term goal of the foundation is replacing the tower which once sat on the top of the Institute, Miller said.

The Institute was established as a public school in 1845 on land donated by Alvarez Fisk, but the original building burned. It was rebuilt in 1901 and for many years was the only public school for white children in then-segregated Natchez.