Yesterday, we saw two portraits of Vicksburg’s builder/architect William Stanton. Today, thanks to granddaughter Sandra Stanton Toler and Dorothy O’Neill, we see a lifetime of portraits of Stanton’s architect son William A. Stanton.
William A. Stanton perhaps was Mississippi’s first native-born architect. By “architect” I mean one who attended school to become an architect, not one who started out as a builder and became an architect, like W.A.’s father William Stanton (1840-1908) did. The younger Stanton, following in his father’s footsteps in the construction industry, attended Cornell’s architecture school from 1890-1893. Apparently, he did not graduate, although he did tout his Cornell connection in many of his later advertisements.
When he came back to Vicksburg, he went into his father’s business, and by the early 1900s, their firm was known variously as “Stanton & Son” or “William and W.A. Stanton.” Together they were responsible for many of Vicksburg’s most prominent turn-of-the-century buildings, including the Warren County Jail (1906) and the old Pythian Hall (1907–destroyed). You can check out their full listof currently known buildings on the MDAH database.
After his father’s death, W.A. stepped right in to his own practice, continuing his independent practice into the 1940s. He designed many of Vicksburg’s fashionable and expensive residences in the elite South Cherry and Drummond streets neighborhood–at the time arguably the most architecturally ambitious residential neighborhood in the state in the early 20th century. He also designed Carr Junior High School (1924), a beautiful Tudor building even in its present abandoned state and, across the river, the Talullah Book Club Building (1930).You might also recall that he wrote a few descriptive essays during the 1930s for the WPA historical material, and you can get a sense of his voice in his description of Ceres Plantation, quoted at length in “William A. Stanton on Ceres Plantation.”
Even though he set the trend in his architectural education, I don’t find any evidence that he ever joined the Mississippi chapter of the AIA when it formed in 1929. By the late 1920s, Jackson had clearly surpassed Vicksburg in prominence and population and was now the center of architectural practice in the state. Maybe that was a hard pill to swallow for a man who could have been considered the standard-bearer for professional architecture in the early decades of the 1900s. Or maybe he was just at the end of his career and didn’t feel it was necessary to join.
By the time of Stanton’s death in 1948, obituaries weren’t as effusive or interesting as when his dad’s was written in 1908. He also had the bad luck to die on the day of Babe Ruth’s funeral, which got two long columns in the Vicksburg Post, compared to Stanton’s one short column:
W.A. STANTON SR., DIED EARLY TODAY; FUNERAL FRIDAY
Well Known Local Architect Passes After Long Illness
W.A. Stanton, Sr.aged 78 years, died early this morning at a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, after an illness of several years.
He was born in Minden, La, July 17, 1870, and came to Vicksburg when a few weeks old and lived here all his life.
Mr. Stanton attended Cornell University at Ithaca, New York. He was a prominent architect in Vicksburg for a number of years. He was a member of Crawford Street Methodist Church, the W.H. Stevens Masonic Lodge, No. 121, and the Wahabi Shrine Temple.
Deceased is survived by two daughters, Mrs. T.C. Cunningham, Washington, D.C., and Mrs. Dale Etter of St. Louis, Mo.; three sons, J.C. Stanton, Philadelphia, Pa., E.C. Stanton, Jackson, Miss., and W.A. Stanton, Jr., Leland, Miss.; a sister, Mrs. Annie S. Enochs, Vicksburg, and numerous grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held from the Fisher funeral chapel Friday at 10:30 a.m., with interment being made in City Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be as follows:
Active–Clinton Jones, Forrest Thomas, Ernest Wailes, J.Clark Williams, F. Limerick McRae, Eugene Drake, all of Vicksburg; J.B. Arnold, Leland, and C.Y. Katzenmier, Port Gibson.
Honorary–Board of Stewards of the Crawford Street Methodist Church
All W.A. Stanton photos courtesy of Sandra Stanton Toler.