Downtown Project Underway

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One of the first discoveries made during the demolition of the interior of the former Marks Rothenberg building was granite columns on the 22nd Avenue side.

Dr. Bev Norment, special assistant to Mississippi State's president, is in charge of the project.

"I had the contractor come in and take a crowbar and take the wood off of this column here and inside are the granite columns just exactly as they are on the Fifth Street side," said Norment. "It's just really amazing to have a find like that and this is certainly something that will be retained."

Papers written by Israel Marks, the Marks in Marks Rothenberg, were found as well. They date back to 1897 when Marks was a student at Harvard College. And there's more.

"These are old checks that we found that were written in the early 1900s. The date on this one is June 1919," Norment said.

The biggest mystery is two gravestones discovered in a hallway, dated 1906 and bearing the name of "Clarine, daughter of G.W. and L.B. Edgerton."

The next step is removing the display windows around the building, tearing out the drop ceilings, the non-load bearing walls and the dressing rooms, so the building will be back in its original condition.

The target date is still the fall of 2005 at an estimated cost of $19 million.

Norment said the money is the bank or has been pledged and the project is now definitely on "go."