Mississippi Architect: Fellow Tom Biggs

This last installment from the May 1963 issue of Mississippi Architect is an unusual one for the magazine, as it focuses on one particular Mississippi architect who was being honored by the A.I.A. We’ve looked at a few of Tom Biggs buildings here on MissPres, most of them designs from later in his career than this Fellowship and several of them now lost: the Buena Vista Motor Hotel, the George University Commons at USM, and my personal favorite, the first place on the first-ever Name This Place contest, Jackson’s St. Richard’s Catholic Church, which is quite austere on the exterior, but very warm, humane, but Modern on the interior.

As I mentioned, I think Biggs’ best design work came after his Fellowship, but here we see he was being honored for his service to the AIA rather than for design. I do think it’s interesting that only three other Mississippi architects were Fellows, and that John Pritchard was one of them. Long-time MissPres readers might remember how enamored I am of the Tad Smith Coliseum at Ole Miss–this was a joint venture of Pritchard’s firm and Brewer, Skewes, and Godbold (featured in yesterday’s post). Otherwise, I have to admit, I don’t know of any other Pritchard buildings I really love–anybody out there have a favorite?


Tom Biggs Advanced to Rank of Fellow

The American Institute of Architects is advancing Thomas J. Biggs of Jackson to the rank of Fellow at its 1963 convention in Miami this month.

Mr. Biggs, a principal in the firm of Biggs, Weir, Chandler, Neal and Chastain, is one of 35 members in the country to be selected.
The honor is bestowed for distinguished performance in architectural design, literature, education, public service or service to the A.I.A. Less than four per cent of the Institute’s current membership of over 15,000 are Fellows.

Mr. Biggs was chosen on the basis of his service to the A.I.A. He is chairman of the national A.I.A. committee on internship training; member of the advisory committees to the schools of architecture at Tulane and Auburn Universities; member of the A.I.A. committee on academic training; member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture; past chairman of the A.I.A. awards and scholarships committee, and past member of the Joint A.I.A.-A.C.S.A. committee on teaching of architecture. He has held all offices in the Mississippi Chapter of A.I.A.

Author of award winning entries in two national architectural competitions, Mr. Biggs was a member of the jury for the first Reynolds Student Award Competition,

He is a native of Earle, Ark., and a graduate of Georgia Tech. From 1933 to 1940 he was employed in various professional offices in Jackson, Little Rock, Washington and New York. He served in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1945 as a lieutenant colonel, and since 1946 has been in continuous practice in Jackson.

Three other Mississippi architects are Fellows. They are R.W. Naef, F.A.I.A. and N.W. Overstreet, F.A.I.A., both of Jackson, and John H. Pritchard, F.A.I.A., of Tunica.


This article is reprinted from the May 1963 issue of the Mississippi Architect, with permission from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. For other articles in this ongoing series, including the pdf version of each full issue, click on the MSArcht tab at the top of this page.

Categories: Architectural Research

5 replies

  1. While this topic may have already been covered, I didn’t know until today, that the current Chapel at St. Dominic’s
    Hospital in Jackson is to be torn down in order for the construction of a new Emergency Room wing.

    This chapel is very similar to St. Richard’s, but on a smaller scale.

    St. Dominic’s is building a new chapel on Lakeland Drive which looks like it will be beautiful , so I’m assuming since there is a standing congregation from the area, the old structure will at least remain until the new Chapel is complete.

    I’m thinking the current St. D Chapel was built during the 1960’s ” in one of the first expansions ” of the hospital.

    I hope someone can share the history, photographs and anything else about the this Chapel prior to it’s demise.

    Although, I’m excited about a new Emergency Room, This Chapel is a historic piece of Jackson, Mississippi History.

    Gary E. Magee


    • Yes, the existing chapel will be torn down after the new one is completed. I don’t have an exact date of the construction of the chapel but the buildings around it were put in place in the early 70s so the chapel should be about the same age. We do have some photos over the years in the archives. Next time I have some of the books I will try to find some good ones. As an aside we have filmed pieces of several commercials in the current chapel. The current television commercials have a short spot in the chapel.

      – St. Dominic’s Marketing Department


    • I’ve seen those commercials! It’s always a nice surprise to recognize the surroundings in a commercial, and I’m glad the architecture is getting a good showing. I’m going to post some of my pictures tomorrow, along with the little historical information I’ve come across, mostly from looking through old pictures in St. D’s newsletter over the years. But if you come across those archival pictures, let me know–I’d love to post them as well.


  2. I had heard this, and it seems like someone mentioned it here on MissPres, but I can’t recall for sure. I happened to be over at St. D’s visiting a friend earlier this year and had my camera with me. On my way out, I decided to look into the chapel. I’m a fan of St. Richard’s, and you’re right, the feel here is similar but in a smaller space. I love the indirect lighting and the use of mosaic tile for decoration. I’m withholding judgment on whether the new chapel will be as beautiful and peaceful as the old. It certainly won’t be as accessible from the hospital, since it’s on the other side of Lakeland.

    I should get my pictures together and post them here. The guard did approach me and didn’t seem all that happy about what I was doing, but he didn’t stop me either, so I suppose it wouldn’t get me in trouble to post them. I’d like to have a little history to post with the photos though, so if anyone out there knows more about the building, let me know!



  1. Going Inside: St. Dominics Chapel « Preservation in Mississippi

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