Former Hattiesburg Mayor Bobby Chain honored - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Former Hattiesburg Mayor Bobby Chain honored

May is National Preservation Month. Communities all around the country are celebrating its historical treasures. The Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association is celebrating the city's downtown treasures, and the man who was the leader in redeveloping the area.

Former Hattiesburg Mayor and local business man Bobby Chain personally purchased nine vacant downtown buildings, helped restore the Saenger, and helped to bring banks downtown. He considers his work an honor.

"It was a great privilege for me to do all that, and to have that opportunity. I never was a politician. I guess I proved it during the years I was there," said Chain.

Thursday afternoon, during the monthly meeting of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association, the group received a proclamation, from the mayor, recognizing May as national preservation month. They honored the catalyst of the redevelopment of downtown. During the meeting, Chain's work in Hattiesburg and in the mayor's office was called "legendary".

Chain received the Preservation Award for his efforts to restore downtown. A mission he had as soon as he assumed office.

"My thoughts from the very beginning was to see what I could do to restore and help save downtown," said Chain.

In 1980, while in office, Chain laid the foundation for today's downtown, with the contributions of friends.

"The most immediate need was the restoration of city hall, which was about to be torn down. The old jail had been abandoned. It was knee deep in water. The community center had been closed for a long time. We got it rebuilt and the first year it was used 300 days," said Chain.

Executive Director of Mississippi Heritage Trust, David Preziosi, says great strides like Chain's are needed to realize the benefits of restoring historic sites and downtowns.

"It helps the local economy with jobs, tourism, improved property values. We have seen that especially in historic neighborhoods," said Preziosi.

Today's downtown lives up to Chain's mission years ago.

"Downtown is active and alive. In what some of us envisioned it would be," said Chain.

Copyright 2012 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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