Representing Columbus June 7 at the Mississippi Heritage Trust preservation conference in Ocean Springs are, from left, Sonya Hill, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Main Street Columbus; Columbus Mayor Robert Smith; Barbara Bigelow, Main Street Columbus executive director; George Irby, director of Planning and Community Development, City of Columbus; and David Armstrong, chief operating officer, City of Columbus. Photo by: Courtesy photo
June 16, 2018 10:02:14 PM
A near-20-month rehabilitation project of Columbus' historic City Hall earned a Mississippi Heritage Award for Restoration at a ceremony in Ocean Springs June 7. The honor was presented to Columbus Mayor Robert Smith at the Listen Up! Historic Preservation Conference and Heritage Awards. Main Street Columbus submitted the award nomination, narrative and entry in April.
The Mississippi Heritage Trust award recognizes the dedicated work put into restoring and preserving City Hall to its earlier appearance and use, said Main Street Executive Director Barbara Bigelow.
Smith said the restoration gives new life to the historic structure.
"Each day that we come to work in this building, I am reminded of the privilege it is to serve our citizens," he remarked. "When I look at the list in our lobby of those that have come before us in elected positions, it is humbling to know that we have restored this part of history for many more generations to come."
Bigelow said, "Main Street Columbus takes great pride in our historic downtown and believes that economic development and restoration is a key asset to any revitalization plan. Thanks, in part, to a grant provided by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the hard work of J5 Broaddus, LPK Architects, Burks Mordecai, Craddock Construction and a well-thought-out master plan, the historic Columbus City Hall underwent an amazing transformation."
Work on the 115-year-old City Hall at 523 Main St. in downtown Columbus began Oct. 1, 2015, and was finalized April 22, 2017. It's the first complete renovation since the building was constructed in 1903, said Bigelow.
Extensive improvements on infrastructure as well as interior and exterior updates took place in two phases and totaled more than $2 million. Project teams exercised care to preserve important heritage and history while utilizing modern, cost-saving equipment and ensuring that the result resembled the original construction as much as possible.
Smith remarked, "Our hope is that this building continues to be the center of our city government for another 100 years. I am grateful for the State of Mississippi and those that made this project a reality."
Main Street Columbus and those at City Hall feel the makeover is more than simply a facelift of an old, historic building. Its impact will extend beyond the walls of the structure, as a reflection of Columbus. It can enhance the city's ability to aid in the needs of the community and ensure it remains a valuable resource and asset for the citizens of Columbus.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.