Sculptures to extend to Elvis Birthplace

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The 6-foot-tall guitar sculptures that dot downtown Tupelo have been such a hit, more are on the way.
Fifteen of them will be placed from East Main Street to the Elvis Presley Birthplace, attendees were told Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association on Tuesday.
In January, as part of the 75th birthday anniversary of Presley, the first of 14 guitar sculptures was placed in front of Tupelo Hardware Co., where Elvis’ mother bought his first guitar.
The sculptures, scaled models of Elvis’ first guitar, were created by Nettleton-based Digital Impressions and painted by students from the Tupelo Public School District.
The project was the brainchild of Kit Stafford, who was an art teacher at Thomas Street Elementary at the time. She is now the director of the GumTree Museum of Art.
The project also was recognized by the DTMSA with the “Best downtown public improvement” award. It also won Mississippi Main Street’s award for best downtown improvement project.
DTMSA Executive Director Debbie Brangenberg noted several accomplishments this year:
– Thirty-seven new members joined DTMSA, bringing the total this year to 240. Last year, five new members brought the total to 80 members.
– So far this year, $5.2 million in public and private money has been invested, compared to $429,000 last year.
– Twelve new businesses have opened this year, compared to eight last year.
The Elvis Presley Festival also pulled in $75,338 after all expenses were paid.
The positive numbers happened during the middle of a recession, which shows the resilience of downtown Tupelo, Brangenberg said.
“We’re in a recession, but look at what we’ve done in the past year because of the time and effort to continue to get our news out,” Brangenberg said. “We are the heart of the community and we’re prepared for when the economy takes a turn.”
The annual meeting marked the 20th anniversary of Tupelo being designated a Mississippi Main Street Community. Since then, public and private investment has totaled more than $130 million.
The old fairgrounds has developed into Fairpark, and dozens of buildings have been renovated to serve as shops, restaurants and homes.
The next 20 years, Brangenberg said, has plenty of promise.
“Where we are today is part of the vision we’ve had for some time,” she said. “But I’m always looking for the next opportunity. We can never be satisfied.”

DTMSA awards
The Downtown Tupelo Main Street
Association at its annual meeting
Tuesday gave the following awards:
■ Best preservation renovation –
Brad Prewitt for the R.C. Clark home
at 215 North Church St.
■ Special service award – Vicky
Manning
■ Best facade rehabilitation – Tupelo
Community Theatre for restoration
and renovation of the Lyric marquis
and facade
■ Best special event – Pigskins in
the Park
■ Best downtown public improvement
– Guitar Art Project
■ Best business promotion – Summer
picnic and Wine Downtown
■ Board member of the year – Jim
Goodwin
■ Volunteer of the year – Brandon
Bishop
■ Business of the year – Ladybug’s
Children’s Shop and Maternity
(owner Machelle Pitcock)
■ Spirit of Main Street – John and
Sherry Avila