Yesterday’s picture of the former Petroleum Building in Jackson brought out the inner-Modernists in all of us, a fun jaunt back to a time when colorful buildings were considered not only fashionable but suitable for the headquarters of an oil and gas company. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you hate color), those of you who live in Jackson know that the Petroleum Building lost its zest for life probably around 1980 when it was re-skinned in a brooding dark glass. At the same time, its somewhat more staid contemporary and neighbor, the Milner Building, was also made over in the same “Darth Vader” (thank you, Tom Howorth) image so that those of us who came along later had to stop and think to realize they started out as two separate high-rise office towers.
Wasn’t there a song in the 1980s called “I Hate You!” or something like that? These poor buildings kind of seem to fit that theme.
I’d love to know more about the Petroleum Building–who designed it? What business(es) occupied it? It was clearly a major building in downtown Jackson and at the center of a hub of mid-century landmarks, most of which have been so remodeled as to be unrecognizable except for Thalia Mara Hall and that AT&T Building on Pearl Street around the corner.
Here’s a Sanborn map of the block, showing both the Petroleum Building and the Milner. Look at that cool concrete porte cochere on the opposite side of where yesterday’s postcard view was taken–I would love to see a picture of that!
The Milner Building, built a few years before the Petroleum Building, in 1953-54, was designed by Jackson architect E.L. Malvaney (the real one) and built by the Flint Brothers Construction Co., who we’ve recently become more familiar with from Jimmy Flint’s pictures of his grandfather’s work. I had never seen a “pre-Vader” picture of the Milner Building until Jimmy’s album popped up, so it was really exciting to see one in Jimmy’s album.
And the same view from roughly the same spot today: