His­toric Des­ig­na­tion Sought


McDonald County Press - - FRONT PAGE - Sally Car­roll

Vol­un­teers hope the old county jail built in 1905 be­comes the third McDon­ald County en­tity to be placed on the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places.

McDon­ald County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety vol­un­teers re­cently started to tackle the lengthy process of pa­per­work for a pos­si­ble Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places des­ig­na­tion. Pre­lim­i­nary in­for­ma­tion from state of­fi­cials in­di­cates the old county jail on Har­mon Street in Pineville has a shot at mak­ing the list.

Though a fi­nal de­ci­sion for such is not guar­an­teed, vol­un­teers are en­cour­aged and want to move for­ward. Once the pa­per­work is filed, it might take a year be­fore vol­un­teers know the fi­nal out­come, said McDon­ald County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety Pres­i­dent Lynn Tatum.

The old court­house on the Pineville Square made the list in 2012, Tatum said. State of­fi­cials were fas­ci­nated that the old court­house had been uti­lized for the Jesse James movie in 1939.

The old iron bridge in Pow­ell, con­structed in 1914-1915, is also on the list.

Vol­un­teers started the most re­cent process in Au­gust when they sent a pre­lim­i­nary as­sess­ment form to the State His­toric Preser­va­tion Of­fice for the old county jail and the his­toric Sher­iff’s House.

The idea to ap­ply came as vol­un­teers be­gan fin­ish­ing restora­tion work on the sher­iff’s house. Vol­un­teers have been work­ing for the last five or six years and are cur­rently work­ing on the in­te­rior. With that project al­most com­plete, vol­un­teers be­gan to won­der if the Sher­iff’s House and the old jail next door could qual­ify for na­tional recog­ni­tion, Tatum said.

A call to the state and some dis­cus­sions re­sulted in a pre­lim­i­nary as­sess­ment be­ing sent to lo­cal vol­un­teers. State of­fi­cials sug­gested the two build­ings be com­bined as a unit for the ap­pli­ca­tion.

State of­fi­cials said they would

re­turn an opin­ion — not ap­proval — if it would be worth­while for vol­un­teers to ap­ply.

The His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety owns the Sher­iff’s House, and the county owns the old jail. Of­fi­cials met with county com­mis­sion­ers to gain their sup­port and ask if the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety could oc­cupy the first 10 feet — the en­try­way — that is cur­rently used as stor­age. It could be used as ex­hibit space.

Vol­un­teers are not nec­es­sar­ily in­ter­ested in the other part of the build­ing, as com­mis­sion­ers uti­lize that for stor­age of im­por­tant doc­u­ments.

County com­mis­sion­ers agreed to sup­port the plan, and Tatum moved for­ward by sub­mit­ting the old jail’s floor plans, what the fa­cil­i­ties were used for, up­dates made, site plans and pho­tos of the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior. In all, her doc­u­ment was 48-pages long.

That was sub­mit­ted on Aug. 4. By early Septem­ber, state of­fi­cials replied that there was not suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion avail­able about the Sher­iff’s House for el­i­gi­bil­ity. Part of the un­known cri­te­ria is know­ing when the struc­ture was built. Vol­un­teers do not have that in­for­ma­tion and it would take quite some time and re­search to un­cover that, Tatum said.

State of­fi­cials did say that there was suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion about the old jail and that vol­un­teers could sub­mit fur­ther in­for­ma­tion and an ap­pli­ca­tion.

“We were sur­prised and happy,” Tatum said.

The board voted to move for­ward and an ad hoc com­mit­tee was es­tab­lished.

Vol­un­teers will sub­mit a first draft of the ap­pli­ca­tion next year, which will be re­viewed by tech­ni­cal spe­cial­ists. Af­ter the first draft is ap­proved, vol­un­teers may sit be­fore a panel at the state’s capi­tol in Jef­fer­son City, give a pre­sen­ta­tion and an­swer ques­tions.

Af­ter that, it could be an­other year be­fore vol­un­teers know the fi­nal out­come, Tatum said.

Many ap­ply and very few are ap­proved for the na­tional list, how­ever, the ap­proval would be an ex­tremely valu­able sta­tus for the county and preser­va­tion of its his­tory, Tatum said.

Mak­ing the list means the struc­ture can­not be torn down. It also gives the so­ci­ety the abil­ity to ap­ply for grants and raise money for exhibits, should they be lo­cated in the front part of the old jail.

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