Baptist Town revitalization project to be honored

GREENWOOD — The Mississippi State University Carl Small Town Center’s efforts to help revitalize one of the oldest and most historic African American neighborhoods in Greenwood is being recognized by the American Planning Association.

During the APA’s National Planning Conference April 12 in Boston, CSTC director John Poros and assistant director Leah Kemp will accept the group’s Outstanding Student Project award for the center’s Baptist Town project. The honor recognizes efforts by a university graduate or undergraduate class or individual that addresses a planning issue facing a small town or rural area.

The research and service arm of MSU’s School of Architecture, Art and Design, the Carl Small Town Center works to help improve the lives of residents in historically and culturally significant communities, among other missions.

Known to many through the works of blues musician and storyteller David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Baptist Town was the last place legendary bluesman Robert Johnson lived before his death. Morgan Freeman, one of the nation’s most famous actors, also attended school in the community.

Poros and Kemp said the MSU team is working to provide the needed direction to restore and revitalize the area. A master plan produced by MSU architecture and landscape architecture majors includes the addition of a public park, a community center and improved housing.

With a master plan completed, partners on the project now are awaiting the results of a grant application to help fund neighborhood changes. The CSTC team also continues to refine plans for the community center.

Other partners in the project are working to set up a temporary community center, partially funded by The Help Productions, which spent time in Greenwood during the fall filming of the upcoming movie “The Help.”

Source: Mississippi State University

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