…“When a representative from the Mississippi State University School of Architecture visited her school during her senior year, Belinda Stewart knew then that’s what she wanted to do. ‘I liked all the components of architecture, but didn’t know much about the field at all until that visit to my school. I realized that it was everything I liked to do, all wrapped up in one.’ Her grandfather was a builder, and Belinda used to follow him around in the summer. Knowing that there was a place where she could learn a skill that utilized her talents, Belinda went to MSU to study architecture.
‘When I graduated in 1985, the economy wasn’t that good, and I began searching for greener pastures. Like so many young people, I just left I had to get out of Mississippi.’ She landed in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, where she went to work for a large architecture firm. ‘There were about 50 to 60 people working there, but I was fortunate to work for the president of the firm, whose main area of expertise was historic preservation and renovation. I developed a passion for working with old buldings.’
The lure of Mississippi pulled Belinda back and she started her own firm in her hometown of Walthall, Mississippi, near Eupora. Now Belinda Stewart Architects does about 75% of their business in historic renovation and preservation. ‘The new buildings we do, like the Clinton Visitors’ Center and a classroom addition at MSU, mostly have a very traditional feel to them.’
The most satisfying part of Belinda’s job is seeing people enjoy the buildings she’s been a part of. ‘I love seeing the building work well for people.’ Some projects take a long time to come to fruition. ‘It’s not unusual for us to do, for example, a county courthouse building where we’ll go in and help identify the scope of work, then we’ll even help with the grant application project. It’s easy to look at the project and think that it may never get done. But what I’ve learned is that with patience, it can and will get done. We can always find a way to bring a dream into reality. And when that happens, it’s so satisfying to see the finished project.”…