Public meeting on Spain House today

TUPELO – Proponents of saving the century-old Spain House will make their case for historic preservation at a public hearing Monday at City Hall.
They say the city should designate the house a local historic landmark. Such status will prevent anyone from demolishing the three-story structure without permission from the Tupelo Historic Preservation Commission, which wouldn’t likely grant it.
The City Council will attend the hearing but will not vote until its regular meeting Tuesday.
Calvary Baptist Church owns the home but wants it removed from its location at the corner of Main and Madison streets. If no one is willing to pay the estimated $30,000 to relocate it, the church said it might tear down the house. It wants to develop the land for other uses.
The hearing starts at 4:45 p.m. and provides a forum for people on both sides of the issue to voice opinion. City leaders, including Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and Development Services Director BJ Teal, termed the topic a “controversial” one, and a large crowd is expected.
Members of the Historic Preservation Commission are trying to rally even more residents to attend in support. Downtown resident Susan McGukin said she plans to be among them.
“It’s one of the few remaining Victorian-style houses in Tupelo,” McGukin said. “I really feel like any pre-tornado homes need to be preserved because there are so few left.”
The Spain House was built in 1910 by Tupelo pharmacist Robert L. Pound and his wife, Lucy Carter Pound. It had survived the deadly 1936 tornado before being sold to W.D. Spain and his wife, Letha Mefford Spain.
Members of the Tupelo Historic Preservation Commission triggered Monday’s hearing by nominating the properties for historic status along with two others: the East Main Street Water Tower and the barn and silos of the former Forest Lake Farm in Ballard Park. All three will be considered this week.
Commission Chairman Michael Jones said his group continues to work with Calvary to reach a “win-win” solution regardless of the council’s decision. But he said his goal is to “get the building restored on the site where it is.”

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com. Also read her blog, The Government Grind, at NEMS360.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal