Historic Hattiesburg Eaton School not salvageable

Published: Apr. 12, 2011 at 2:43 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2011 at 10:16 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Engineers say the historic 100 year old Eaton School on Mcinnis Avenue in the East Jerusalem part of Hattiesburg is not salvageable and should be torn down.

This after $140,000 has already been spent by the city to replace the roof. Forty thousand dollars came from a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to repair the roof and the rest is Hattiesburg taxpayer money.

The plan was for the certified historic landmark to be restored to its original state from when it was first built with replacing the roof being the first part of the project. It was discovered by MDAH that the pitch of the trusses on the roof were not correct and they had to be redone three times. While the work was going on, the inside was exposed to the elements which caused significant damage leaving the building unsalvageable.

MDHA has called in the State Attorney General to see who is responsible for leaving the building unprotected.

"Is it the state, is it the city administration, the architect, the contractor," asked Dave Ware, Ward Four Councilman? "I think that's a very important question that needs to be answered. Someone should be held accountable for taxpayer dollars that have been spent on this building."

Ware says Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado has been repeatedly asking questions about what was being done to protect the building.

"Nothing was being done to weather proof the building, even at her suggestion," said Ware.

Another major expense for taxpayers will come when the building gets demolished and the debris is hauled away.

"It would be very expensive, said Ware. "The environment abatement has been done. The asbestos has been removed, so that would lessen the cost. But still, it's a large building and that's going to cost a significant amount of money."

The old cafeteria portion of the school is still in use by a community outreach group. The hope is that part of building can be saved.

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