Newton Historic Preservation Committee fights to save building | Local News

NEWTON — Plans to demolish a building on North Main Street in Newton have been halted by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) until further notice.

SHPO officials were in Newton Thursday to inspect the Tracy Gallaspy Building, which is owned by the city and currently houses Shorty’s Corner. According to Newton Mayor David Carr, the building was inspected by a structural engineer and the report was sent to SHPO. The State Department will further inspect the building and base its final decision on its findings.

Dorothy Turnage, co-ordinator of the Newton Historic Preservation Commission, told the council of aldermen at Tuesday night’s meeting that the building – which is located in the town’s historic district – cannot be destroyed until officials of the Mississippi Department of Records and History are unconvinced. ‘t structurally safe.

“Even though the city owns the building, they can’t tear it down without going through the state archives,” Turnage said. “Then the next step is to give a letter of intent on what you plan to put in there if it’s torn down.”

Turnage said she would like to see the building saved.

“To the Historical Commission, this property is very important because this building is a vital part of Newton’s history,” Turnage said. There was a fire in the 1800s that destroyed all the wooden buildings. After the fire, it was one, if not the first brick building erected on this property. For us, it is a cornerstone of Newton.”

The city had received a bid from a contractor for $62,367 to demolish the building when Turnage discovered the plans. She contacted the SHPO.

Turnage said if the records department finds the building structurally sound and can be saved, the city will have to come up with another plan.

“What would happen to downtown Newton if this building was torn down? Turnage asked. “I just want all options explored before anything is decided.”

If the building is approved for demolition, there are plans to put a small park there or sell the property, Carr said.

Local historian Mae Helen Clark said a wooden building which housed a store was built on the site in 1876. In 1904-05 CR Hoye, son of prominent Newton merchant MJL Hoye, built the brick structure known today as the Tracy Gallaspy Building.

The building has been purchased by several companies since the Hoye family owned it, including Bank of Newton, John Ivy, Jackson Pharmacy, Citizens Bank and Tracy Gallaspy. Other companies that have occupied the building are Ivy’s Drug Store, McBeth’s Drug Store, Ben Franklin and TWL.

Clark said that at one time a beauty salon was on one side of the building and there were two doctors’ offices – Drs. WE Box and JT Jarvis – located at the rear.

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