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Prentiss building roof gets OK

NATCHEZ — The historic Prentiss Club building, which caught fire last month, is on the road to restoration after the Natchez Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved plans for a new roof on the structure.

The 113-year-old building at Pearl and Jefferson streets once featured a red-tiled roof that was destroyed in the Sept. 2 fire that also caused significant damage to approximately half the structure.

The building was first constructed in 1904 to 1905 and housed the Prentiss Club, a private men’s organization chartered in 1903. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Owners Fred and Melinda Kent requested permission from the commission to build a similar-looking roof to the original red tile roof with less expensive flat shingles as they attempt to restore the building.

“We have to redo the scaffolding on the building, repair all the roofing around it and then add the shingles,” Fred Kent said.

The process would take some time, Kent said, and he should have a more definitive timeline and construction plan later this week when he meets with his contractors.

Riccardo Giani, Natchez planning and zoning director, said the red, shingled roof is a faster solution that shouldn’t take away from the original appearance of the structure.

“We approved a more inexpensive solution as opposed to putting a brand new tile roof up,” Giani said.

“When you’re on the street looking up, it looks relatively the same.”

Giani said the Natchez Preservation Commission and Historic Natchez Foundation have worked closely with the Kents and are optimistic about the building’s complete restoration.

“We’re excited to see this reconstruction moving forward,” Giani said. “We try to move expeditiously with these matters.

“Getting a new roof is a No. 1 priority for preservation. Without it, the building would deteriorate as it rains.”

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