As part of its ongoing effort to establish a museum in Covington, on Tuesday a representative from the Association for the Preservation of African-American History and Culture in Tipton County asked the city to help purchase the old Price house.
The non-profit organization would like to purchase the house, which sits at the intersection of North Main Street and Hwy. 51 North, because members believe it to be a logical place to put a black history museum.
“The house is old and it’d be a great place to have it,” said Olean Anderson. “The African-American trail comes through Covington, and we could get them to stop and leave some of their dollars here.”
Alderman John Edwards said it was hard to think of the potential museum in another location.
“It’s right on the highway, in the business district, and can bring more interest to our area,” he said. “It’s a perfect location.”
Though the house has been vacant for several years and is in a state of disrepair, the 2,854-square foot Craftsman-style home is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1928 by Dr. T.H. Price, a prominent African-American doctor in Tipton County, and has only had two owners in nearly a century. It is currently zoned for commercial use and has both a residence and Sonic restaurant as neighbors.
The organization said having Memphis, Brownsville and Ripley – where African-American museums, historical sites and attractions already exist – as neighbors would help bring tourists to the museum.
Former mayor David Gordon had agreed to have the property inspected and appraised before leaving office. Its last appraisal by the county has its total market appraisal at $99,700. Anderson said she isn’t sure what price the owner, Price’s nephew Alonzo Beard, has set, but told Covington’s mayor and aldermen that the county has agreed to pay half of the purchase price if the city will pay the other.
Anderson and alderwoman Minnie Bommer, who is also involved with the organization, said they hoped the city would help fund the purchase and then turn the creation and management of a black history museum over to the Tipton County Museum board. The group would also like two members of its board to sit on the museum board.
If the property is owned by a public entity, like a municipality, grant funding is available, Bommer said.
“We missed out on a $300,000 grant because we didn’t have the building,” she said. “We’ve done everything we can do until now.”
Mayor Justin Hanson agreed to look into purchasing the building.
Anderson said the museum would give a sense of contribution to the community.
“You must remember that black dollars matter and we want to make Covington a destination,” she said. “We want to say we, as a people, are contributing to Covington. In the end, it will help our economy for us to get that up and going.”