A tin dome atop the historic Benwalt Hotel downtown is being removed so the structure can be restored.
A tin dome atop the historic Benwalt Hotel downtown is being removed so the structure can be restored.
Work is continuing to remove a tin dome off the historic Benwalt hotel downtown.

A block of Myrtle Street, from Byrd Avenue to Range Avenue, remains closed to traffic while workmen are removing the tin roof from the historic Benwalt Hotel, but Byrd Avenue was open on Tuesday.

A California couple with ties to Neshoba County purchased the historic Benwalt Hotel on Byrd Avenue and plans to turn it into a non-profit cultural center with restaurants and overnight accommodations.

Removal of the baby blue tin roof was necessary, they said, so the exterior can be restored to its original facade.

Workmen began removing items from the top floor of the building couple of weeks ago.

Amina Carter, whose late grandfather was a founding member of Mt. Talley Missionary Baptist Church in the Stallo community, is exploring funding options and grants, along with her husband, for the project.

In addition to establishing a cultural center, the couple wants to refurbish the restaurant and hotel built in 1928 and left vacant since October 2002.

Carter, who retained her maiden name after her marriage to Ratibu Jacocks, said earlier that the hotel was structurally sound, though the interior would have to be gutted.

The Benwalt Hotel remained in operation until the late 1970s. Philadelphia businessman Morgan Hardy purchased the hotel in June 1976 which later operated as the Downtowner Motor Inn.