Downtown Tupelo seeks national historic designation

By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association has started a campaign to win public support for a national historic district designation.
Main Street is in the process of completing a historic resources survey for downtown Tupelo. The goal is to see if the central business district has enough buildings to merit requesting an officially recognized National Register of Historic Places district.
Debbie Brangenberg, executive director of Main Street, on Tuesday updated the board about the efforts and later in the day updated City Council members at a worksession about the “myths and misunderstandings” about preservation and historic districts.
“This is an economic development tool we haven’t been able to utilize downtown for building renovations,” she told the board.
If the designation is granted, she said, it will open up opportunities for building owners to get federal rebates. The owners are able to get state incentives if they want to participate, but National Register status does not automatically designate a building as a Mississippi landmark without written consent from the building’s owner.
“The National Register listing won’t impact your property rights,” she told the board. “Nobody is going to tell you what to do with your building unless you want the tax credit.”
Main Street went through the process in 1991 and didn’t qualify for the district. Brangenberg thinks the district has a good chance now because more buildings are at least 50 years old and renovations have been done to make the structures more historically accurate.
Tupelo already has several National Register districts – Highland Circle, Mill Village, North Broadway and South Church Street.
Main Street was awarded a Mississippi Department of Archives and History grant to fund the survey. Brangenberg said the survey and the application will be submitted in July 2013.
carlie.wells@journalinc.com