I’m always on the hunt for pictures of the architects and builders who designed and built all these lovely buildings in our Magnolia State. Recently I came across not one but two in the same source, the Mississippi State House Commission Report, published at the opening of the New Capitol in 1903. There’s lots of information in this small booklet that I might cover in more detail in future posts, but I especially loved seeing nice portraits of New Capitol architect Theodore Link of St. Louis, and the Superintendent of Construction J.F. Barnes of Greenville/Jackson. I think we’ve noted before that Barnes was the builder responsible for the courthouse in Greenville.
Theodore Link was born and raised in Germany and attended school in Germany, London, and Paris before moving to the U.S. and settling in St. Louis. Doesn’t he look very German with that wonderful mustache? Do you think people called him “Theodore” or “Ted”? By the looks of him, I think they may have just called him “Sir.”
Link was an important architect in St. Louis, designing Union Station, now a National Historic Landmark, along with numerous other buildings. You can read more about his St. Louis work and biography at the Landmarks Association of St. Louis site.
I think Link’s later Mississippi work is often overlooked, or worse yet, dismissed (for instance, the Dept. of Mental Health recently obtained a demolition permit for his 3-story Lakefront Cottage at what is now the Boswell Center (old State Sanitorium) from MDAH after allowing the building to sit vacant and unmaintained for over a decade). Link designed a number of buildings at MSU and Ole Miss in the period after World War I, and appears in the Jackson City Directory with a residence on N. State Street and an office on E. Capitol. He also designed several neoclassical residences in the state during the 1910s, including St. Peter’s Rectory in downtown Jackson and the Virden-Fagan House at 901 N. State next to the Municipal Art Gallery. So you can see he was very active in the architectural world of Mississippi well after his New Capitol design. Our own E.L. Malvaney trained in his Jackson office in the early 1920s, and I’ve often wondered if Malvaney’s decision to attend Washington University in St. Louis was influenced by Link.
Doesn’t John F. Barnes look like someone you could trust to build your house or your new state capitol? Utterly trustworthy, and in some way I can’t put my finger on, he looks like a Mississippian, unlike Link. I don’t know as much about Barnes’ biography as I do Link’s–I don’t even know his birth and death dates. I do know he was working in Greenville in the 1890s, as he built the 1891 Washington County Courthouse (and the 1889 Bolivar County courthouse at Rosedale–no longer standing). He seems to have moved to Jackson by the mid-1890s at least. I only know of three of his buildings that still stand, but they’re all good ones–the New Capitol, the Washington Co. CH, and the Temple Gimiluth Chassed in Port Gibson. He also built the old First Presbyterian Church (1892) and the old First Baptist Church (1895) in Jackson, along with the Carnegie library at Millsaps (1906)–all of these are long gone unfortunately. I’m sure as time goes by we’ll find out more buildings by this man, but even if we only know of those three, that’s a pretty good record.