Exterior work on Fulton’s 150-year-old Cates-Gaither House is expected to begin in early September.
Last week, a large sign was erected near the house, facing Main Street, designating the work as “phase one” of the structure’s restoration, which will include new brickwork on its chimneys, a new brick sidewalk, weatherproofing and a new roof. Work is expected to wrap up by the end of the year.
The brickwork is being handled by Fulton’s Sammy Hill at a cost estimate of $8,200; stabilization of the structure, roofing and weatherproofing will cost approximately $33,550 and will be handled by Magnolia Construction. The work is being paid for by a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, local non-profit group the Fulton Community Volunteers and the city itself. By the time the project is complete, the city will owe approximately $5,000 in matching grant funds.
City officials voted to accept bids on the exterior work in June.
Bids for the renovation work were much lower than anticipated. Over the past few years, members of the FCV have accrued more than $70,000 in grant monies and donated funds to help pay for the project. They originally estimated the cost to renovate the building’s exterior somewhere around $61,000, but the actual cost, based on the bids, came in closer to $42,000.
If work continues to come in under budget, the group hopes the board will allow them to use remaining funds to begin renovations of the building’s interior.
The Gaither House, also known as The Cedars, has been an object of community support since 2009. The property’s owner, Fulton United Methodist Church, needed to take down the building, which was in dire need of repair, to make room for a new parsonage. Any group willing to move the building was welcome to have it, however. A small volunteer group, then-called Preserving Itawamba County’s History (members of which later formed the Fulton Community Volunteers), requested city officials to claim the 150-year-old home. Group members, headed by Judge Sharion Aycock, offered to volunteer to raise money to have the structure moved and, eventually, renovated.
City officials agreed. In November of 2011, the Gaither House was moved approximately 200 yards west of its original location onto a small piece of property donated to the city by Fulton United Methodist Church. In 2012, the building was designated a historical landmark by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.