Officials Visit Ocean Springs for Destination Downtown

Representatives from 100 main streets around the country are in Ocean Springs this week for Destination Downtown. Their goal is to learn from the city and come up with similar ideas to take home. The group got a chance to explore Ocean Springs and its neighboring cities Monday.

Mickey Howley the Main Street Director for Water Valley, Mississippi. He is just one of the 200 visitors in Ocean Springs this week at the Destination Downtown conference. Howley says, "There’s about 100 towns that are represented at this conference and everybody comes now to Ocean Springs to really get some good ideas and really learn from Ocean Springs."

Howley says he’s impressed by how Ocean Springs has bounced back from Hurricane Katrina with a vibrant nightlife and historic preservation. Howley also says, "It’s like well, can we do something in a similar vein. We won’t necessarily steal the idea, but we’ll be inspired by it."

To show off the importance of preservation, the group toured the Charley Norwood home on East Beach. Mark Loughman, Director of Mississippi Main Street, says, "This place is great because it shows the importance of preserving architecture in economic development, because that’s what Main Street is really all about."

According to Loughman, by preserving historic places like the Charley Norwood house, a city can better connect to its past. Loughman also says, "If you preserve the historic architecture in your community you kind of preserve that connection with the past and that sense of who you are as a community."

The Norwoods’ home isn’t just teaching visitors about the past, but provides a window to the future. Lolly Barnes, Executive Director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust, says, "It’s just fundamentally important to American architecture. You see here what is going to happen in modern architecture in years to come."

According to Barnes, wrap around porches, French doors, and walls made entirely of windows will be making their way into residential housing in the coming years. The group will take what they’ve learned Monday and apply it in workshops that begin Tuesday.

Categories: Local News, News

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