Okolona, Chickasaw Co, MS
following is an article that appeared in the Tupelo Journal on Thurs., Nov 4,
1999 about Okolona, MS being added to the National Register of Historical
Districts. Written permission to use the article in its
entirety received Fri, Nov 5, 1999 from Charlie Langford, Managing Editor, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.
By Eileen Bailey
Stately historic homes sit along tree-lined streets. Older commercial buildings can be found throughout downtown Okolona.
The town, first founded as Rose Hill in 1846, was incorporated as Okolona in 1850. It has survived the Civil War and the Great Depression, having five banks crash during this time.
Residents in the east Chickasaw County town worked together to sell the most war bonds during World War II giving it the designation "The little city that does big things."
Recently, the city received a $4,000 matching grant to help the city be designated a National Register Historic District, said Patsy Gregory, director of the Okolona Chamber of Commerce.
The grant was awarded by the Economic Development Association through the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development.
Gregory said Rose Hill Company, Inc. announced Wednesday that they would provide the $1,000 for the match to get the grant.
The money from the grant will be used to hire a co-op student from the Small Town Center in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University.
This student will work with the state Department of Archives and History to document historic homes and commercial buildings in the downtown area. The district runs from Monroe Street to the south and Main Street to the North. The district will stretch north in parts to Washington and Jefferson streets. Fleming Street will be the eastern border of the district and just west of Church Street will be the other border.
Documentation for this project will consist of photographing each building in the district area and researching its history.
"I think it will give people a sense of pride for what we have," Gregory said. "It will give awareness to people outside of here to the possibility of coming here and owning one of these historic homes."
Shannon Criss, director of the Small Town Center, said a National Register Historic District puts no restrictions on the community or individual property owners.
"It brings good recognition to the community for its many historical structures," Criss said.
When the city is approved for the designation, income producing property owners will receive a 20 percent tax incentive for renovations they make that are approved by the Department of Interior, she said.
The National Register of Historic Places is a list of buildings, districts, historic and archaeological sites and other properties that are officially recognized as worthy of protection and preservation.
Once all of the information is gathered it will be presented to the Mississippi Historic Preservation Professional Review Board and then be sent to the National Register office of the Department of Interior in Washington.
The entire process takes about six months.
Currently, there are 1,100 listings in the state in the National Register. Of that number, 100 are historic districts.
Gregory said anyone with historical information on these buildings or homes is asked to call the Chamber of Commerce at 447-5913.
Note: Area Code for Okolona, MS is: 662
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