Does Natchez have power to save house?

Published 12:06 am Thursday, August 23, 2012

One of the finest examples of Federal-style architecture in Natchez caught fire nearly 10 years ago.

Natchez firefighters worked into that September 2002 night trying to save the historic mansion Arlington.

The firefighters’ hard work and know-how paid off.

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Gutted by fire, smoke and water, and despite a badly damaged roof, amazingly the walls of the house remained upright, as they had for approximately 200 years since its original construction.

In the years since, the Historic Natchez Foundation convinced the out-of-town owner to allow a new roof be put onto the property.

But beyond that — and lots of finger pointing and an occasional court appearance — little has been done.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to put a man on the moon within the decade.

Less than seven years later, the world stood in awe as America fulfilled Kennedy’s challenge.

Saving a house would seem to be a far less challenging feat, but it’s proving far more difficult.

Recently, just how poorly the matter has been handled became apparent when Mayor Butch Brown asked if the nearly $50,000 in fines against the owner had been collected. Both Brown and the general public had been led to believe the fines were accruing with each passing day.

Turns out, only $2,500 is owed, all tied to the city’s work to cut the grass around the rapidly deteriorating structure.

Brown has vowed to take on the challenge of resolving the issue once and for all and bringing all of the city’s legal resources to bear in doing so.

We hope he does so quickly before another treasure comes crashing down senselessly.