Vote Considers Gulfport Library As State Landmark

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- "With the public's help, this is going to be a landmark," said Gulfport resident Debra Peterson.

Members of the group "We the People" were in Jackson when the recommendation they'd been waiting for was given. A permit committee from the Department of Archives and History voted unanimously Thursday to recommend making the downtown library a Mississippi landmark.

"It was just an absolute pleasure to be in a group of professionals that saw the value that we saw in that building," Peterson said.

Following the recommendation, the committee, by law, must allow 30 days for public comment. After the 30 days, the committee can vote on whether to make the library a Mississippi landmark.

"If the state's got a vision to save this building, then we should have the courage here to get behind everyone and save this building," former Mayor Bob Short said.

If the committee designates the library as a Mississippi landmark, the building cannot be torn down until the committee grants a permit. And Jim Woodrick, a representative from the Department of Archives and History, said that's not likely to happen to a landmark.

"I think that you will see this building saved," Short said.

The committee cited, among other things, the building's unique architecture, the structure's resilience, and the passionate support from residents in influencing its decision.

Gulfport residents like Elizabeth Bittner say the recommendation alone should send a message to city and county leaders.

"I would ask the city council and the board of supervisors to join with the many, many, many people on this coast who have struggled to save this building and join in the honor that was bestowed on us today," Bittner said.