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New Albany-Union County Receives Multiple Preservation Awards

Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Directors and Department Staff were in New Albany, October 24 – October 25, for the quarterly meeting of the Board of Directors.  A luncheon was held at the Union County Heritage Museum for the out of town visitors with the traditional William Faulkner fare. The group toured the restored African American Old Oak Grove Church, Ingomar Mound site, and New Albany’s Downtown Historic District. A reception was held in the historic home of Beverly and Bo Collins known as Cedar Hall. Built in 1838 the home was built by Moses Collins one of New Albany’s founders. 

Katie Blount, Department Director commented, “MDAH board members and staff were so impressed with the rich historic resources in New Albany and Union County. We were even more impressed with the extraordinary work the community has done to preserve and interpret those resources. From the outstanding historical museum to the carefully maintained Ingomar Mounds to the vibrant downtown with residents and businesses housed in beautifully maintained historic structures, New Albany is a model preservation community. We were gratified to see this outstanding work and appreciated the opportunity to meet and thank the people who have done it”.

Resolutions of Commendation for the work accomplished in preservation with the Downtown Historic District in New Albany by New Albany Main Street was presented to Billye Jean Stroud and the Main Street Board of Directors by Kane Ditto, former mayor of Jackson serving as President of the MDAH Board of Directors.  The designation of the district was made in 1996 and the continuing efforts for downtown historic preservation have been recognized through Mississippi Landmark designations and the efforts of downtown property owners for their continuing preservation for which this award was given. Stroud said, “I am proud to receive this recognition on behalf of the Main Street Association’s board. Twenty plus years of hard work and dedication by the property owners of New Albany’s Downtown Historic District and the Main Street Four-Point Approach continues to brings beautification and economic growth to the heart of our community.”

The Union County Historical Society and Heritage Museum was presented an award for work on the development of the museum; the programming with students; visitors and tourists; the Faulkner Library and Literary Garden; the development of preservation, interpretation and programming at Ingomar Mound Site a Mississippi Landmark and for the collection of the Society.  Betsey Hamilton, a board member of MDAH and of the Union County Historical Society remarked, “I am extremely honored to serve as board member for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and so proud that New Albany was selected as the destination for the board’s fall meeting. Having this group in our city was the perfect opportunity for us to showcase our extraordinary downtown, our Mississippi Landmark buildings, other preservation projects and all that is special about New Albany and Union County. We all had a wonderful time and I’m so appreciative to so many who made the New Albany visit a memorable one for all of our guests”.

A commendation was presented to the City of New Albany, accepted by Alderman Johnny Anderson, for their recent passage of Certified Local Government program, for support of three Mississippi Landmark properties as well as support for New Albany Main Street, the Union County Historical Society, the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area and the Tanglefoot Trail.

A commendation was given to the Union County Board of Supervisors for their preservation of the Union County Courthouse, a Mississippi Landmark. They were also recognized for their support and maintenance of the Ingomar Mound Site, support of the Union County Historical Society, New Albany Main Street Association and the Tanglefoot Trail.

Reception hosts, Beverly and Bo Collins were recognized for their preservation of the Moses Collins house.

Kent Bain accepted the commendation given to the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Areas, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.  In these 10 years more than $700,000 has been spent in preservation projects as well as tourism development of the heritage area.

A commendation was present to the Stephens Family of New Albany for the work of the late Edgar Stephens for his research and writing of the Early Days of New Albany 1840-1900, without his foresight and research there would be few written records of the history of New Albany.  The late Jennie Belle Stephens Smith, another member of the Stephens Family, was remembered and commended for her work in articles written for the Works Progress Administration to document history and to establish the Union County Library’s archival resources. Smith was an accomplished genealogist and author of numerous historical writings.

Gayle and Bill Rutledge were given a Resolution of Commendation for their work in restoring Old Oak Grove African American Church east on Us 178 and for restoring the building that once served as the Engineer’s Home on the GM&O Railroad.  It is now a Bed and Breakfast known as One Night Stand located on the Tanglefoot Trail .

The Concerned Veterans of Union County, an African American group of Vietnam Veterans were given a resolution for their work in researching and compiling the Histories of the African American Churches in Union County for the Hallelujah Trail Project in Union County.  The continuing research on the history of the African American Business District in New Albany and Union County and for their work in sharing this history through programming and outreach to the community. 

Mrs. Ann Holmes was given a Resolution of Commendation for her service as Chairman of New Albany’s Sesquicentennial Commemorative book New Albany Mississippi 1840 – 1900 as a part of the 150th Birthday Celebration of the City of New Albany.  This book compiled from research by numerous committee members includes a history of the town, feature articles of local memories and lots of interesting information which make this book a constant resource. 

Frances Dunlap, was recognized with a Resolution of Commendation for work of the Editorial Committee in the History of Union County History Book which was published in 1986. This book continues to be used as a primary source for historical research in Union County. The book contains family histories, photographs, church history, town history, school histories, post office histories and much more.


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