Presidential visit? Federal courthouse in running

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 27, 2010

NATCHEZ — Natchez’s own federal courthouse is a contender for one of the most coveted historic preservation awards in the nation.

The courthouse has been nominated for the National Trust/Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Award, Mayor Jake Middleton said Friday. If the federal courthouse is selected the winner, the award could be presented by a special guest.

“The award might be handed out be the president of the United States,” Middleton said. “We’re really excited, and I sure hope we get it because I think (the courthouse) is very deserving of the award.”

Middleton said past sites selected for the award were restored by a collaborative effort among federal, state and local agencies.

Built in 1853, the courthouse, 109 Pearl St., has served as an auditorium, opera hall, skating rink, a forum for the Historic Natchez Pageant, and a public library.

The courthouse opened in October 2007 after careful planning among city and county officials, Ron and Mimi Miller of the Historic Natchez Foundation, the General Service Administration and U.S. Marshals.

Builders used original wood timbers to restore many of the building’s features, and coupled antiquity with state-of-the-art technologies.

“Through dedicated hard work and the strategic leveraging of a variety of funding sources, the project was successfully completed,” Middleton said.

“The federal courthouse is not only a point of civic pride, it provides a steady stream of litigants, attorneys and other court related visitors who dine in the city’s restaurants and stay in its hotels. The courthouse has been a real boon for the economy and should continue to be into the future.”

Middleton penned a letter to the National Trust Awards Review Committee this week, announcing his support of the nomination.

The review committee will close its nominations Monday.

Past award winners include the V-Site Restoration Project in Los Alamos, N.M., and the Federal Transit Administration/Lower Manhattan Recovery Office in New York City.