Arlington tagged “endangered”

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 11, 2009

NATCHEZ — Arlington is listed on a top 10 list — but not the kind you’d hope for.

The house was named the second most endangered historic property in Mississippi by the Mississippi Heritage Trust Thursday.

The Heritage Trust is a statewide non-profit set up to preserve the historic resources of the state. Each year since 1999, the group has released a 10 most endangered places list.

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David Preziosi, executive director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust, said Arlington was chosen from the list of nominees because of its deteriorating state and the lack of a restoration plan.

“We really thought it was one of the sights that needed to be listed because it is getting in really bad condition,” Preziosi said.

Nominations for endangered properties were accepted from individuals from across the state and a selected jury of state residents evaluates each nominee. From that, the 10 most threatened properties are chosen.

Prezoisi said once a property is listed on the endangered list his organization can provide assistance in a couple of ways.

“Some people who really want to restore the property, we can help them find money for the restoration,” he said. “And for people who don’t want to do anything, this is a way to give them a little push to either restore the property or sell it to someone who wants to do something with it.”

Prezoisi said the listing also gives properties that are eligible for grant funding, a higher ranking than properties that have not been termed endangered.

Since the inception of the list, 12 places have been saved and 35 are in the progress of being saved. Only three have been lost, and 10 have seen no progress.

Prezoisi said a property is not considered lost until it is demolished.

“This has been a great way to call attention to the buildings and sites that are important to the history of our state,” Preziosi said. “A lot of these places are small and people may not be familiar with them until we list them.”

Arlington, built circa 1818, was built in the classical revival style by John Hampton White. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and in 1974 the house was named a National Historic Landmark.

In September 2002, a fire caused major damage to the house, destroying the roof and most of the second floor. A roof was installed on the house shortly after the fire, but no other work has been done to protect the house from weather or vandalism.

Prezoisi was the city planner in Natchez from 1996 until early 2002. He said he was especially pleased to see Arlington on the list.

“I know it really needs a lot of help and attention,” Prezoisi said. “Hopefully this will get something happening for the house.”

Natchez College was chosen for the list in 2005. Rodney Presbyterian Church in Jefferson County was listed in 2003 and Meadvilla in Washington was listed in 1999.

Other properties named on this year’s list are the Alcazar Hotel in Clarksdale, Church Street in Port Gibson, Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Raymond, the Front Street Historic District in Pascagoula, the Hinds County Armory in Jackson, The Oakes African American Cultural Center in Yazoo City, the Teoc Community in Carroll County, the Threefoot Building in Meridian and Wood College in Mathiston.