Preserving the Past

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Brick by brick, workers with the non-profit organization AmeriCorps picked up the historic pieces of what used to be the Con Shehan Building in downtown Meridian.

The 100-year-old structure did not withstand the high winds from Hurricane Ivan.

"What you are seeing today is the salvaging of the historic brick," said Meridian's MainStreet manager, Sharon Smith.

The Meridian Redevelopment Authority had recently secured the ownership of the building just months ago, with a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. The money was to be used for stabilization of the building. The commission had also issued another $200,000 for restoration before it collapsed.

"I'm happy to report that the money will now go towards the reconstruction of the building," Smith said.

The Con Shehan, erected in the late 1800s, was one of Meridian's oldest buildings.

"We're here to help all parties involved to complete its mission," said AmeriCorps volunteer Eric Willis.

Smith said she hopes that, through what happened, people will see the value of preserving history.

"It is imperative that Meridian see the value around the city. This is a prime example of what happens when you don't preserve things," Smith said.

Once the building is restored, organizers say they are going to memorialize it and the people who once worked there.