MS Architects in Tallulah, LA

I’m always interested–and therefore you should be too–in finding what buildings Mississippi architects were doing in other states. Tallulah, Louisiana has two buildings (out of not a huge number) that we Mississippians can be proud of, Bloom’s Arcade (1930-31) by Jackson’s N.W. Overstreet and the Tallulah Book Club Building (1930) by Vicksburg architect William A. Stanton. Although they are contemporaries, the two buildings couldn’t be more different–Bloom’s Arcade, an attached commercial building, is Art Deco while the Book Club, a detached residential-like structure, is a neat little Spanish Colonial. Both merit attention in Buildings of Louisiana, by Karen Kingsley (2003), and here are some pictures along with brief excerpts the entries from that book:

Bloom's Arcade
Bloom’s Arcade
Bloom's Acrade interior

Bloom's Arcade interior--I have no comment on the statue--please concentrate on the architecture instead

Those of us who grew up in the 1980s–you know who you are!–might think an arcade involves lots of video games and anti-social teenagers loitering. In fact, historically an arcades have been around for a while and were the first indoor shopping centers. If you go to England, you can see their arcades, many of which date to the 19th century–very cool! I don’t know of any arcades in Mississippi, so Bloom’s Arcade is worth seeing if you’re going through Tallulah on I-20. Here’s what Karen Kingsley has to say about it in Buildings of Louisiana:

This shopping arcade, Louisiana’s only surviving historic example, was designed for Abe and Mertie M. Bloom by Mississippi architect N.W. Overstreet, who was known for his modernist designs. The interior arcade, 300 feet long and 18 feet wide, is paved with terrazo and illuminated by a continuous skylight of translucent glass supported on steel trusses. The exterior of buff-colored brick is embellished with Art Deco geometric and floral motifs in cast concrete. Among the shops that formerly lined each side of the arcade were two soda fountains, a post office, a jewelry store, a barbershop, a poolroom, and Bloom’s Drug Store.

As you can see, the arcade now stands empty, fallen on hard times, as it seems to me has Tallulah in general.

The Book Club Building, a few blocks from the arcade, was designed by Vicksburg architect William A. Stanton. William A. Stanton was the son of William Stanton, who designed the recently demolished Speed Street School in 1894. The two Stantons together had their hand in Vicksburg’s construction trade for over 50 years, beginning in the 1870s. William A. Stanton was one of our first native-born college-educated architects, having graduated from Cornell (I’m taking his word on this–I haven’t actually checked with Cornell to be sure).

Tallulah Library

Here’s another excerpt from Buildings of Louisiana:

In 1902, a group of local women founded the Tallulah Literary Club, operating a lending library from the home of one of the members. By the late 1920s, the club’s membership had grown to one hundred women, who were also active in various civic causes. Requiring a larger space to hold their meetings, the women commissioned this new building, which included a large library room and a meeting hall with a stage, both available for use by non-members. The simple Spanish Colonial Revival structure has an exterior of brick covered with textured stucco, a curved parapet, a scroll-shaped buttress marking the entrance, and blue tiles inset over the entrance vestibule.



Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Preservation Education

3 replies

  1. Blooms Arcade has been beautifully remodeled as state of the art, modernized apartments. They were careful to preserve all of the architectural details of the arcade. It is said that Blooms Arcade was the first Arcade, or indoor mall, to be built in the United States.

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