We heard early yesterday that the Webster County Courthouse in the tiny town of Walthall caught fire around 2:30 AM and was not completely under control until 7 o’clock. Tom Freeland at the North Mississippi Commenter posted an update yesterday afternoon.
Preservation architect Belinda Stewart, who lives in Walthall and whose office is in Eupora just down the road, sent these pictures of the building from early morning through last night. She described the scene as surreal, especially with our snowy night and later blue-sky day. She noted that all the courthouse records were saved–which seems miraculous looking at this picture!–and have been removed for preservation.
Belinda also had the following thoughts late last night after a long exhausting day:
The building is standing. We thankfully have a copy of the original drawings and therefore have been able to show how well this building is constructed. The basement and first floor levels are fairly intact. The most severe damage is at the courtroom. The roof is completely destroyed and 2 of the 4 large steel trusses collapsed. Many of the windows and all of the doors are destroyed. The only wood structure was the roof and second floor ceiling joists. The floors are constructed of concrete and clay tile.
The courthouse was built in 1915 and designed by the firm of Overstreet, Spencer & Paine and built by Little-Cleckler Construction Co. of Anniston, AL. This was from the early career of N.W. Overstreet, who began practice in Jackson in 1912. Other buildings designed by this firm are the YMCA at MSU (1914) and the Franklin County Courthouse in Meadville (1913).