Before and After: Mississippi Coliseum

I know you’re all pondering yesterday’s ponderous post, so today I thought I’d go easy on you with just a couple of pictures. Besides that, my snug little historic house in Fondren is currently suffering a drought of sorts, due to the 70+ water mains that have broken in Jackson because of the recent extended freeze (and long periods of infrastructure stagnation), so I’m not quite up to my usual energetic and witty repartee.

I came across this postcard of the Mississippi Coliseum on eBay recently and decided I must have it to share with all my MissPres readers. In addition to the beautiful full-color photo, it came with its own caption, so I don’t even have to do any research, except to tell you that the architects were Jones & Haas of Jackson, who also designed the Livestock Pavilions on the fairgrounds as well as assorted 1950s and 60s schools around the state.


“The Mississippi Coliseum, Jackson, Mississippi . . . This beautiful, vari-colored, modern activity center of Mississippi was built at a cost of $4,250,00.00 and opened in June 1962. The Arena floor with 25,440 square feet is used for all types of indoor events–conventions, stock shows, ice shows, circuses, athletic contests and ice skating.” A Deep South Card, n.d.

Mississippi Coliseum, March 2009

There is some discussion about tearing the Coliseum down, or at least building a downtown arena to use for sporting events and presumably large concerts. For that point of view, see the Downtown Jackson Partners post: “Arena Update, Part 1.

Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Jackson

13 replies

  1. I read a while back that those yellow and orange panels were made of fused glass. Mr. Jones was, before the remodel, wondering how the panels would be dealt with. I now wonder what happened to them. I have to say that I was never very fond of yellow and orange, but the building at least used to have a personality.


  2. The orange and yellow panels were a bit yappy, but they were also distinctive- something the remodeled building seriously lacks. I dislike the idea of simply discarding this building.


  3. Fused glass, that’s interesting. Those were being removed right around the time I moved to Jackson, and I remember them as kind of dirty and past their prime (maybe they just needed cleaning? or were they permanently faded?). But as you say, at least the circus tent concept had a strong point of view, while the current incarnation seems to be trying to be classy when, well, it’s a coliseum on a paved-over fairgrounds.

    I do love the porte cochere though–very space-age!


    • Aaannndd, was anyone aware that the porte cochere has now been removed and some prefab-looking awning thing is being installed along with some corrugated panels for siding? Why bother? There goes what was left of any interest, distinction, or personality.


      • I did a double take a while back when coming off the interstate at the Pearl exit, and made a mental note to go by and look more closely. I couldn’t figure out why they would want to remove such a functional and beautiful part of the building and was in denial. Clearly, they don’t have an understanding of either. I filed my mental note away and it must have slipped through the cracks in my skull because I never followed up on it.


        • You probably didn’t want to have to acknowledge that they were doing it. I can only hope it was about to fall down or something; otherwise, it’s another example of this state wasting our money.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. OOPS! Not fused glass– maybe that was wishful thinking. Harry Haas said about “repainting” the coliseum in 1985,

    ‘”It would be costly. The existing surface isn’t something that you can paint over easily. It’s a glaze fired on to the base metal. For whatever good they would get out of it, it would cost a heck of a lot more than it’s worth. I like it the way it is.”

    ‘Haas said the color scheme was proposed by a designer in his firm 23 years ago.

    ‘”His logic was that it would be a joyous color,” Haas said. “Everything that goes on in the coliseum are happy occasions.

    ‘”As to the question of aesthetics, everyone has his own opinion. I think we ought to take a vote or put a little coupon in the paper and ask people to express their opinion,” Haas said. “There has always been some comment about it. It’s something that’s striking. At least it serves that purpose.”‘ — Clarion ledger, 9.13.1985


  5. A Jackson daily news article of the same date calls it “colored glass fused onto steel.”


  6. I can’t find anything about it, but I swear I read somewhere that Overstreet built the livestock buildings.


  7. Extra detail: directly underneath this structure lies the extinct volcano, who’s eruptions are responsible for central MS’s Yazoo Clay

    Click to access The%20Geology%20of%20Mississippi.pdf,_Mississippi#Geography.2C_geology.2C_and_climate


  8. Well that’s disturbing! What a very weird fact–thanks for pointing it out. I’ll be more careful when I’m around the fairgrounds, that’s for sure!

    Oh, and the first link isn’t getting me anywhere.


  9. the jackson volcano is about 2.900 feet below jackson and the opening is below millsap college


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