Group hopes architect’s report will help secure funding for Margaret Martin

Published 12:11 am Friday, December 27, 2019

NATCHEZ — Friends of the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center announced Christmas Eve that a hired architect has completed a report for the building’s rehabilitation — a document they hope will go a long way to securing funding from state legislators.

The former school on Homochitto Street is currently home to entertainment, such as the Natchez Festival of Music and Natchez Ballet Academy productions.

Margaret Martin spokesperson, Dan Gibson, said the next-step for restoring the building would be to submit the report to state legislators for possible funding.

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“We are going during spring session to convince our legislators to support this restoration,” Gibson said. “Last year, we were getting far into the session and thought we were getting funding then, but the funds were pulled out at the last minute. We were told that we needed a detailed plan in place. We’re hopeful that with a finished architectural plan, they will know we are serious.”

An architectural report created by Belinda Stewart Architects out of Eupora, MS stated that the full project, including building restoration; roof replacement; bathroom, electrical and mechanical updates and ADA compatibility modifications would cost up an estimated $7.2 million.

“We will probably determine the amount to be funded after talking to our legislators,” Gibson said, adding that the project could be broken apart into five smaller phases and funds redeemed as they are needed.

“The first phase (estimated to cost $2 million) is the renovation of the auditorium and other must-do items,” Gibson said.

The report, received last week, came as an early Christmas present for those who are passionate about restoring Margaret Martin, Gibson said.

“I am very satisfied with it, and those who’ve read it and whom we’ve heard back from have praised it,” Gibson said. “Belinda Stewart has definitely lived up to her good reputation.”

Gibson said donations are still being accepted to support the restoration project as well. Half of the $10,000 needed to pay for the architectural review has been paid Gibson said, adding another $5,000 is still needed.

Gibson said contributions to the Margaret Martin restoration are tax-deductible and can be made at Checks can be mailed to Adams Natchez Community Alliance / Friends of The Natchez Centre at 173 US Hwy. 61 South, Natchez, MS 39120.