Tupelo could own Spain House soon

TUPELO – The Spain House will get a new owner, pending the approval of a contract pitched to a favorable audience Tuesday afternoon.
Calvary Baptist Church and the Tupelo Historic Preservation Commission, which have been at odds over the future of the century-old structure, joined together in asking the city of Tupelo to take ownership of the house.
Representatives of the two entities presented to the City Council a proposed contract giving the endangered home to the municipality in hopes it can be saved.
The city would have until April 1, 2012, to move the house at the corner of West Main and Madison streets to a new location. Calvary, which now owns it, then could develop the site for its own needs.
If the city doesn’t move it, the church could proceed with plans to demolish the house at its own expense. The church doesn’t need the house and it would cost at least $600,000 to renovate.
Historic Preservation Commission chairwoman Karen Keeney said the contract’s “a win-win.”
Calvary spokesman Greg Pirkle agreed, saying the church would rather work with the commission and the community to relocate and save the house rather than destroy it.
After questions by the council, most of its members also agreed to the contract – although they won’t vote on it until an upcoming meeting. The next meeting is Sept. 21.
“I don’t want this to cost a city a penny,” said council President Fred Pitts. As long as that’s the case, “I think it’s a great agreement.”
The city would pay nothing for the house, except whatever costs it incurs to further secure and insure it. And if it finds another entity to take ownership of the structure, that entity would then pay for its relocation and any cleanup costs at the site.
“I want to thank both of you for respecting the others’ positions,” Ward 5 Councilman Jonny Davis told commission and church representatives. “I thank Calvary for their patience. Cooler heads have prevailed.”

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

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