Prentiss Club sold to Loss Prevention Services owners for expansion

Published 10:53 am Thursday, August 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — The Prentiss Club — a historic building at the corner of North Pearl and Jefferson streets in Natchez — has sold to owners of Loss Prevention Services, Sterling and Shannon Gay, the Historic Natchez Foundation announced.

HNF listed the property for sale earlier this year for $80,000, but it will take a lot more to restore the building that has been all but gutted by a fire on Sept. 2, 2018.

The foundation took the lead on replacing the roof of the structure to prevent any further damage, stabilizing the inside and restoring the outside so that it appears, at least from the street view, that the fire never happened.

Email newsletter signup

Inside is another matter.

Carter Burns, Historic Natchez Foundation executive director, estimated rehab of the building will require $800,000 to $1 million.

“We’re going to be working with them to utilize historic tax credits for the project as well,” Burns said.

“We are thrilled that Sterling and Shannon have acquired the Prentiss Club.  They have a great vision for the building and we can’t wait to see this important landmark come back to life.”

The foundation took care in finding a buyer who could provide a clear picture of the building’s proposed use and some proof of the owner’s financial ability to complete the rehabilitation.

Pat Biglane, President of the Historic Natchez Foundation Board of Directors, said based on Loss Prevention showing commitment to investing in the Natchez area from completely rehabbing the old Regions bank building for its new headquarters, LPS’s ownership of the Prentiss Club “fits like a glove.”

“They brought employment (opportunities) here at a time when we needed it and got the Regions bank building and parking lot right down the street,” Biglane said. “I’d like to say thank you, from a Natchez Inc. standpoint, for the jobs (LPS) provides.”

Loss Prevention Services is a technologically enabled information management company and services broker offering banking and financial institutions a range of skip locate, repossession, and transport services.

Owners said the Prentiss Club will become part of the LPS campus in downtown Natchez and will provide housing for out-of-town clients, employees, and guests of LPS, as well as provide sorely needed space for employee training.

Sterling Gay said LPS employs approximately 200 people locally and many more from other parts of the United States, including its Michigan staff and software engineers from Nashville that often come to Natchez.

“(Our plan is) to be able to make it into living quarters, condos for the employees that are coming in from out of state,” Gay said. “We’ve had several contractors working at it, and we’re working on those bids as we speak.”

Built in 1905 in the Second Renaissance Revival Style, the Prentiss Club is one of the city’s most architecturally and historically significant buildings, HNF states in a news release.

It was built for the city’s most prestigious men’s club with its founding members being almost equally divided between Jewish and gentile.

The architect for the building was Francis J. MacDonnell of the New Orleans firm of Soule and MacDonnell. Throughout its life, the building has served a variety of uses.

Built as a private club, it has been a restaurant, nightclub, event venue, Masonic lodge, and a luxurious private residence when interior designer and antiques dealer Buzz Harper lived in the building and decorated it in his signature ornate style.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Insurers of the building considered it a “total loss” after the 2018 fire, HNF states.

Fred and Melinda Kent, owners at that time, donated the 12,000 square foot building HNF.

“Shannon and I would like to express our gratitude to the Historic Natchez Foundation for awarding us the right to purchase the Prentiss Club,” Sterling Gay said. “We are equally grateful for the City of Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi Development Authority, Natchez Workforce Development and Natchez, Inc., for their help throughout our growth and development of our corporate headquarters in our hometown of Natchez.  We are eager to restore the Prentiss Club to a state of beauty and functionality the building deserves.  This purchase will allow us to further our expansion in downtown Natchez by bringing more job opportunities for the citizens of Adams County and beyond.”