In Friday morning’s SAH session on Architecture of the Road, Ethel Goodstein-Murphree of the University of Arkansas gave an enlightening paper called “The Common Place of the Common Carrier: The American Truck Stop.” She devoted a whole section to the Red Hot Truck Stop in Meridian, whose sign is still standing last I saw, but whose building was torn down for the Super Walmart around 2000. She had some great historic photos of the truck stop, along with some she took in the 1980s or 1990s. I learned that the truck stop, a wonderful mostly glass affair topped with a low shed roof, was built in 1955 and was designed by none other than Chris Risher Sr., a Meridian architect and one of our most talented (but now sometimes forgotten) Modernists.
Chris Risher, Sr. is also one of those architects that I need to know more about–I don’t know where in the world his drawings have gone to or whether they still exist, don’t know many of the buildings he designed (one lovely documented building is the Vise Building in downtown Meridian, but I’m sure there are scores of other cool Modern buildings in and around Meridian for which he is responsible), don’t know much about his life in general. I do know his son, Chris Risher, Jr. went on to a career in architecture and taught at a number of schools, including Yale (you can read an interesting discussion of Modernism and the “Mystic Southerners” that included Chris Risher, Jr. here).
Anyway, learn something new every day, which is hard when you know as much as I do, but I do the best I can . . . .
Categories: Architectural Research, Demolition/Abandonment, Meridian, Modernism, Recent Past
A few photos from Flickr of the medical bldng I saw, plus a few more Risher projects:
I worked for C. Risher, Sr. and Jr. in 1971 and ’71. We were on the 4th floor of the Vise Building. At that time Sr. was personally overwhelmed with work on Vanity Fair Mall in Meridian. We all did what we could to ease the burden, but much of it could not be delegated.
I remember Jr. showing several buildings that Sr. had designed. One was a lovely church that was very similar to Alvar Aalto’s work. Many residences tucked around Meridian.
Neither of the Rishers were strong on office practice which made for a difficult place to work. However, Bruce Knodel and myself did urge and see some improvement in that regard.
Sr.’s design work was similar to many other architect of his era – Bruce Goff, Herb Greene, etc. Jr. was a very brilliant man who sometimes forgot where he parked his car. Jr.’s designs were very avant and easily went over everyone’s head.
Sr. and his wife had Pekingnese dogs – his in his hair color, hers in her auburn red. Sr. had very long bushy eyebrows to match. He often joked about people and their pets looking alike – he knew his round face, hair and eyebrows where related to his dog!