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Campaign continues to fund Margaret Martin school renovations
from Staff Reports - NEWS
April 2, 2019 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss – One of the leading advocates for renovating the old Margaret Martin school expressed confidence enough funds will be raised to plan and fulfill aspirations for it to become a “landmark center for arts and culture.”

Dan Gibson met Monday with the Adams County Board of Supervisors to enlist it as one of the several public and private partners working to restore the historic 92-year-old structure that needs major refurbishments.

A week after the Mississippi Legislature rescinded $6 million the House and Senate had previously earmarked for Margaret Martin’s renovations, Gibson continues the push to find the money needed. Adams County supervisors are limited in how much they can provide funds for the city-owned structure, but they indicated Monday they’ll help find grants.

Gibson is a member of the Natchez Festival of Music board, which is revitalizing the long-going efforts to restore the building the festival had been using since 1999 for its annual month-long events. The structure can’t be used now because of plumbing problems. The music festival is having to relocate its May performances to the Natchez City Auditorium.

Known as the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, the Gothic Revival/Tudor-style building on Homochitto Street was built in 1927 as Natchez High School. It later became Margaret Martin Junior High School, named after the school’s long-serving teacher and principal.

The ongoing fundraising campaign, Gibson said, is well on its way to having enough money to hire an architect to draw up plans for making the building a center for performing arts, visual arts and culinary arts along with a museum of music, literature and film. “Gonna happen,” said Gibson, who noted $2,000 in donations was collected alone at a Sunday event he organized.

While the Legislature last week deleted $6 million it had earlier approved for MMPAC in two bills that had passed the House and Senate, Gibson said the push for state funds will resume when lawmakers return for their 2020 session. “If we got this close, I don’t see why we can’t get it done next year,” he said.




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