Looking at the Recent Past

For those of us who enjoy the architecture of the mid-to-late-20th century as much as that from the 19th or 18th (well, maybe not “as much” but still a lot . . .) the Recent Past Preservation Network has a new website/blog that keeps us up to date on the latest issues and events, and has some very cool pictures to show us as well. I’m adding it to our links, but wanted to highlight it in a post, especially since the Gulfport Library folks have been fighting the “it’s not old enough to be historic” battle for the last year.

In the same vein, another organization that documents and advocates for the architecture of the Modernists is do.co.mo.mo whose very strange name comes from the first two letters of each important word in the phrase “Documents and Conserves the Modern Movement.” I guess because it’s headquarters is in France, I consider do.co.mo.mo a little more high-falutin than most Mississippians are willing to deal with, so I tend to steer interested people to the Recent Past group which seems more down to earth, and well, I have to say it, American.  Nevertheless, both groups are good resources for modern and post-WWII architecture and have been diligent advocates for these 20th-century buildings and places.

Unfortunately, many traditional preservationists have either overlooked these resources, or worse yet, have held a long-standing grudge against them because of the tendency of many Modernists to disrespect the past and tear down historic buildings. I have to admit I didn’t get into preservation because I loved 1950s buildings, but the more time I’ve spent with them and in them, the more beauty I can see in the simplicity and clean lines of the post-WWII era. It’s still a hard sell around the state. I believe, however, that the tide of public opinion will turn back toward these Modernist buildings and neighborhoods (in many places besides Mississippi, that tide has turned long ago, but we’re a conservative folk) as people grow tired of the overblown decoration and ostentatious design of the last couple of decades and find the angularity and logic of Modernist buildings newly refreshing.

Young-Mauldin Cafeteria, Delta State University

Young-Mauldin Cafeteria, Delta State University (1965)

Categories: Cleveland, Cool Old Places, Gulfport, Recent Past, Universities/Colleges

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