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Owner of historic house challenging condemnation order

VICKSBURG — The city board in Vicksburg will hear a challenge on Oct. 21 from Beck House owner Robert Rosenthall to a condemnation order.

Rosenthall argues in his appeal that the city’s order to make him fix the 138-year-old house is discriminatory and designed to make him lose his property.

Building and inspection director Victor Gray-Lewis in September condemned the house for the second time in 10 months, citing the house as unsafe due to disrepair.

Rosenthall said he has tenants renting two apartments in a carriage house adjacent to the building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and cannot be demolished. Condemning the building could force the tenants to leave.

Built in 1875 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Beck House has been in disrepair since 2003.

Rosenthall said the house is not a hazard to anyone. He said repairs were slow, because some of the woodwork for the house has to be specially milled at a shop in Meridian.

The city and Rosenthall have been battling over the house since 2003. Gray-Lewis in 2011 received permission from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to declare the house in a condition of disrepair by neglect because it had not been kept up.

Gray-Lewis first condemned the house in November 2012, and Rosenthall got a building permit to begin repairs. Gray-Lewis, however, later pulled the permit because no repairs were being made. The permit was later reinstated.

Rosenthall stopped work in March after his application to install a metal roof on the house and put stucco over deteriorating sections of the building’s brick walls was denied by the city.

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