Hilliard is longtime friend to Natchez

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Today at Elms Court, 5:30 to 8 p.m., many Natchez-area advocates of preservation will gather for the annual meeting of the Historic Natchez Foundation. This meeting will include a salute to Elbert Hilliard, longtime director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, who has been a friend to Natchez during the 31 years of his tenure as department leader.

Hilliard not only has gone to bat for Natchez in preservation projects that required funding from the state agency. He also has helped to keep heads straight about how to sort out decisions on projects that could have spoiled the historic character of some of Natchez’s most prominent landmarks.

We applaud the decision to honor Hilliard and to recognize the many hundreds of thousands of dollars in preservation grants that have come to Natchez in recent years.

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Those grants include, for example, the $400,000 to assist in rehabilitating Memorial Hall into a federal courthouse; $150,000 to replace the roof on the old Natchez post office now housing the black history museum; $200,000 for Forks of the Road land acquisition and exhibits; $200,000 for repairs at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center; $100,000 for the exterior renovation and roof repair at Sadie V. Thompson School; and others.

Hilliard left the director position at the end of December. Another veteran and highly respected archivist, H.T. &uot;Hank&uot; Holmes, succeeded him. Holmes is no stranger to Natchez, and we hope his era at Archives and History will be a successful one for him. We hope, also, that the relationship between his department and Natchez will continue to be a strong and close one.

Natchez is home to two of the state’s 17 historic properties &045; Historic Jefferson College and Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. Jim Barnett, who makes Natchez his home, oversees the Natchez sites and other historic properties as site director for Archives and History.

We salute the Historic Natchez Foundation for its continued good work and for its choice in the focus of today’s meeting.