By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
FULTON – Work continues on an Itawamba County group’s attempt to save one of Fulton’s oldest homes.
According to Joel Ewing, head of the Preserving Itawamba County Heritage, efforts to preserve Main Street’s 150-year-old Gaither House have been going well, though the group is still striving to raise money.
The group estimates the initial cost of saving the home, which involves moving and securing the front portion of the structure, to be approximately $20,000. The group has so far raised $9,810 through fundraisers and donations, leaving approximately $11,000 needed for the initial stages of the project.
That’s not to say that support for the group’s efforts hasn’t been strong, quite the opposite. In fact, according to Ewing more than 200 people have donated time and money to the project, displaying there is a very tangible interest in keeping Fulton’s history alive.
The group is currently scheduled to meet with the Fulton Board of Aldermen on April 6 at 6 p.m. in order to donate the house to the city. This will facilitate the process of applying for grants and also provide insurance coverage for the building.
The overall goal is to open the home as a permanent public landmark for Fulton, a historical landmark to be visited.
The group has recently adopting what is being called a “three-pronged short-term strategy” regarding the home. According to Ewing, this approach will allow the group to clearly define its central goals to both municipal and private donors.
The strategy encompasses three primary goals: save, stabilize and sit. “Save” includes the aforementioned donation to the city and the relocation of the front portion of the home; “stabilize” encompasses securing and remodeling the structure to make it both safe and aesthetically pleasing; and “sit” involves ensuring the property is maintained following its relocation until grant money is in place for a full remodel.
The group began its efforts to save the home in July of last year and has since grown into a CREATE Foundation-backed, nonprofit organization.
The need to either move or lose the house is a result of the necessary growth of its owner, Fulton United Methodist Church. Willed to the church by its last owner, Opal Gaither, in hopes that the land on which it sits would be used to build a parsonage, the house stands as both a link to the past and a barrier to the future. It’s a difficult position in which the church finds itself.
So in an effort to be a good steward, the church decided to seek community interest in preserving the house, offering to give it away to anyone interested in having it relocated. The members of PICH took up the sword.
For more information on the efforts to preserve the Gaither House, contact the PICH at (662) 610-5867 or online at itawambaheritage.blogspot.com. Donations are welcome and can be made online at createfoundation.com.
Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.