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Architect assesses Margaret Martin

NATCHEZ — A Eupora architect made her first site visit to the Margaret Martin building Wednesday to conduct a study and estimate costs for restoration of the former school and Mississippi landmark building.

The “Friends of the Natchez Centre” committee — a local group focused on repurposing and refurbishing the Margaret Martin building — raised more than $4,000 of a needed $10,000 down payment to enlist the help of Belinda Stewart, an architect from Eupora, said Dan Gibson, committee spokesperson.

Stewart has had a hand in various courthouse and historic building renovations across the state, including several at Mississippi State University, the Center Stage Theater in West Point and the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale.

“She came highly recommended to us by Mimi Miller and the Historic Natchez Foundation, and we’re very pleased to have her on board,” Gibson said.

Gibson said Stewart’s study would give the Friends of the Natchez Center a firm dollar figure to present to state legislators in an effort to receive funds for the building restoration, which would include updating bathrooms and the kitchen, improving the seating in the auditorium, providing wheelchair accessibility and restoring the classrooms for multi-functional use.

“It’s amazing,” Stewart said of the Margaret Martin building. “It is a beautiful building and a very important building to this community if you think about all of those who’ve come and gone while it was a school and then as it has been operating for 30 years with various music events. It has touched a lot of people here and has the potential to touch so many more and provide a home base for arts here in Natchez.

“… Classroom sizes are such a good size for so many things. It’s a perfect multiple person office, a perfect classroom, dance studio, museum room — the layout of it lends itself well to those kind of uses without having to make any significant changes.”

Gibson said people are welcome to donate more to the Margaret Martin, adding approximately $5,000 is still needed to finish the architectural study.

“We have an account set up through the Adams County Community Alliance allowing those funds to be tax-deductible.”

To donate, contact Gibson at 601-354-0199 or email dan@danmgibson.com.