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City gives owner of historic home more time for renovations

VICKSBURG — Beck House owner Robert Rosenthal has two more months to complete exterior renovations to the house and clean the property.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen granted the extension this week.

The house is on the city’s list of dilapidated and overgrown lots.

Rosenthal asked to have his building permit reinstated and wanted to appeal the Board of Architectural Review’s denial of his application to put a metal roof on the house.

The board did not address the roof issue because Rosenthal had not appealed the decision within the required 10 days of the Board of Architectural Review’s March 5 decision.

Mayor Paul Winfield, however, suggested that he re-apply for a second hearing on the roof. If the board denied the request, he said, Rosenthal could appeal to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Rosenthal received a building permit in November to work on the house, but Building and Inspection Director Victor Gray-Lewis said he pulled the permit in March because there were no signs of work at the house. The notice to Rosenthal about the permit was followed by a letter telling him to clean the construction debris and trash that had collected in the yard.

“The building permit is good for 30 days, but can be renewed as long as there is evidence of substantial work going on,” Gray-Lewis said.

He said he and his staff watched the house in February and early March, saw no signs of work for 30 working days and determined that no work was going on.

Rosenthal said Monday the debris and trash were removed, adding it would take him two months and more than $65,000 to complete the job.

He said some of the materials needed for the project “are not something you can go to The Home Depot and buy, you’ve got to go to Meridian or New Orleans and have them custom-made at $600 a piece.”

“I’m not short of cash, but I do work in Africa, and I will be gone for three weeks,” he said. “When I get back, I’m going to finish that house, and I’m going to need the extra two months.”

Built in 1875 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Beck House has been in disrepair since 2003. Rosenthal began repairs to the house in late December and then stopped work.

He applied to install the metal roof because it would last longer than a composite roof made of asphalt or fiberglass, a replacement material approved by the city’s regulations.

He also wanted to stucco the house because its brick walls have begun to deteriorate. The board denied both requests because the materials did not meet the city’s regulations for repairing and renovating buildings in the historic district.

The regulations are based on the U.S. Secretary of Interior’s standards and guidelines for renovating historic property, and are the adopted national standards, said Nancy Bell, executive director of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.

The board on March 12, one week after denying Rosenthal’s request, approved a metal roof for Main Street Market, which is in the historic district and owned by board member Betty Bullard, who recused herself.

Board members said Main Street Market was a different situation because it was a commercial building and the roof was not an element of the building’s overall architecture.

Metal roofs, they said, are allowed on older commercial buildings in the Historic District under the city’s ordinance.

They said the roof on the Beck House was part of its architecture and had never been metal.



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