Preservationists admire city’s historic buildings

Published 12:26 am Sunday, May 9, 2010

NATCHEZ — Friday, Bill and Bobbye Henley of Jackson welcomed guests of the 15th annual Historic Preservation Conference into their house — a railroad station.

The Henleys own a condo at the former Mississippi Central Railroad Station at the corner of Washington and Canal streets.

The station was built between 1906 and 1910 on land acquired by the Natchez & Eastern Railway Co. The land previously belonged to the family of William Johnson, a free black barber in Natchez who kept of diary of the pre-Civil War South.

“William Johnson owned this land and sold it to the depot, which I thought was pretty interesting,” Bobbye said.

The Germany family sold the station to Cappy Stahlman, who then sold the station to Bruce and Karen Lewis and Yates McGraw, who spearheaded the station’s development as condominiums. The station served as a gift shop in years past.

One year of intense restoration has transformed the Henley’s condo into an elegant and comfortable space. The sitting room of the 2,000- square-foot, two-bedroom space features the old ticket window of the station. A model of a 19th century train sits on the bookshelf.

“We live in Jackson, but we come down here on the weekends,” Bobbye said. “It took about a year to restore the condo. It was a lot of work involved.”

Bobbye said the Historic Preservation Conference approached she and her husband about the tour. According to conference organizers, the Henley’s sensitive rehabilitation adhered to Mississippi rehabilitation tax credits.

“The preservationists appreciate what we’ve done,” Bobbye said. “They love the floors and the walls, and we’ve complied with their rules.”

Friday concluded the two-day conference, which featured tours of houses owned by John and Marcia McCullough and Brandon Hall.

The conference also featured several speakers who addressed how historic preservation fits into the modern eco-friendly movement.