December 18, 2013 9:46:46 AM
The oldest property in Lowndes County to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places will soon be wheelchair accessible.
The Stephen D. Lee Home and Museum was one of 26 preservation projects in the state to be awarded the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Community Heritage Preservation Grant in 2013. House manager and curator Carolyn Kaye said the Stephen D. Lee Foundation applied for and will match 20 percent of a $40,000 grant to build a ramp into the back entrance of the mansion.
Kaye said her late husband Samuel, a noted Columbus preservation architect, drafted the ramp's design. The addition will be built according to his design and will make the historic structure compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act, Carolyn Kaye said.
"Because the house sits up so high from the ground, the ramp is pretty long," she said. "It will take three runs to get the right angle of incline and then the back porch will also have to be redone so there are no steps leading up into the house. It involves landscaping, it involves the concrete work and the redoing of the back porch. It's going to be a smooth transition from the ramp into the house."
Kaye said the foundation applied for and received a similar grant in 2011 that was used for window repairs.
Lee was a Confederate lieutenant general in the Civil War who settled in Columbus after the war. He went on to become the first president of Mississippi A&M College -- now Mississippi State University -- and a Mississippi senator. He died in 1908 and the home was restored in 1960 by the Historical Society and the Society for Preservation of Antiques. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. Fourteen years later, it was named a Mississippi Landmark.
MDAH awarded $3 million in CHPG funding this year. The project to receive the largest amount was the Carnegie Auditorium in Holly Springs. MDAH awarded a $400,000 grant to stabilize that building for future restoration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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