Well, we’ve gotten to that season when we make lists of things that have happened over the past year in preparation for the new year. To start off the week, we’ll take one last look at old friends we have lost around the state. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, I’m sure, but it contains the major landmarks that have been destroyed (I should just say “demolished” since in fact all on the list have been demolished–I didn’t see any major fires or tornadoes this year). Not all of them were listed on the National Register, but most of them were recognized enough to merit attention in the local papers. Their loss shows how far we have to go as preservationists to educate public officials and private owners and also to help them find a viable use for these properties and a way to pay for maintenance and repair.
*** If you know of important buildings I’ve missed, let me know and I’ll add them to the roll call.
(old) First Baptist Church, Natchez
(1921-Oct 2009, Bost & Moss, architects/builders).
Listed on the National Register, this building sat vacant for a couple of decades with new hopes raised for its future on a regular basis. The last owners stripped the building of almost all of its architectural details under the guise of repair and then sold the building to St. Mary’s for demolition when the city came after them.
George University Commons, USM, Hattiesburg
(1961-Aug/Sept 2009, Biggs, Weir & Chandler, Stephen H. Blair, archts.)
I understand this building probably wasn’t loved, and it’s not a spectacular building, but it held some interest on the campus of USM as a modernist structure in the midst of neoclassical buildings. I have no doubt that it will be replaced with a neo-neo-classical complete with Dryvet columns.
First Methodist Church, Biloxi
(1949-Spring 2009, Landry & Matthes, archts.)
The latest church to succumb to the lure of mammon in Biloxi. First Baptist was the first to sell out to the casinos (or a middleman who they were shocked, shocked! to hear turned around and sold the property to the casinos) back in the 1990s, so at least the Methodists held out longer and had the excuse of Katrina and higher insurance rates.
House, 112 Edgewater Drive, Biloxi
(1920-July 2009, Thomas Sully, archt.)
Designed by the same New Orleans architect as the 1891 Church of the Redeemer in Biloxi and the Gulf and Ship Island RR Offices in Gulfport, this sweet little Spanish Colonial bungalow had already had a monster addition at the rear and major damage from Katrina, but there was still hope it would be saved until this summer when it finally came down.
Mississippi Hospital & Medical Services Building [Blue Cross-Blue Shield], Woodrow Wilson Ave., Jackson
(1954-Mar 2009, Powell S. Hall, archt.)
This was an interesting combination of classical with modernist design. I especially like the concrete awnings shading the windows, but I understand the interior was nothing, and the space was needed for the ever-expanding UMC/Health Dept. complex. Not the greatest loss of the year, but still a building I miss seeing when I drive past the site.
(former) Abbeville Presbyterian Church [later Abbeville Town Hall]
I don’t have a picture of this building, but I thought it was a enough of a small-town landmark to warrant a place on the list.
Speed Street School, Vicksburg
(c.1894-Apr 2009, William Stanton, archt.)
Listed on the National Register. I’m still in counseling about this one, and I’m not allowed to talk about it anymore. You can read my previous rants in “Speed Street School Demolition“, “Just to Clarify: Demolition ≠ Preservation” and “MissPres News Roundup 12-4-2009”
Yazoo River Bridge, Hwy 61, N of Vicksburg
A two-lane through-truss bridge in the way of MDOT’s 4-lane expansion of Hwy 61. I’m not sure why they couldn’t build a second bridge to supplement this one, but they didn’t. Ours is not to reason why . . . .
Lakefront Cottage, Sanitorium
(1922-Fall 2009, Link & Trueblood, archts.)
Congratulations to the Dept. of Mental Health for destroying one of only a couple dozen buildings in the state designed by Theodore Link, architect of our landmark New Capitol and the National Historic Landmark Union Station in St. Louis. This little gem was one of the finest buildings on the campus of the old state sanitorium, which is gradually being torn down by Mental Health (this makes three historic buildings in the last decade). Unfortunately, the building’s fate was sealed in the fall of 2009 when the Dept. of Archives and History issued a demolition permit for the building. Oh well, we can at least be thankful that the crummy little vinyl buildings Mental Health plans to build in its place won’t last 20 years and can thus be considered temporary structures.
Finlay House, Greenville
Listed on the National Register. Demolished by the South Delta Regional Housing Authority, an entity whose mystery has yet to be solved–is it private or public or semi-public or quasi-public or none of the above? I’ve already had my say on this subject a couple of times, which you can read at your leisure (“Shame on the South Delta Regional Housing Authority” and “A Little Tidbit about the South Delta Housing Authority“)