Workers have been spotted at the Naval Reserve Center behind the Old Capitol in Jackson over the last week removing windows, interior debris, and sections of the rear wings in preparation for the demolition of most of the rear wings of this National Register-listed building.
As we’ve noted before, this project will yield a records center for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, housed in a new metal warehouse that will be located where the rear wings are currently and will be elevated because the site is in a flood plain that flooded in the famous Easter Flood of 1979. The wisdom of building a state records center (that houses, um, important state records) in a flood plain at great expense when other non-flood-plain sites stand empty all around Jackson; or even more importantly to MissPres, the wisdom of the state’s historic preservation agency tearing off large sections of a building that has been listed on the National Register and further designated as one of Mississippi’s Most Endangered Places–neither of these important issues have been publicly discussed as this project rolls merrily on.
While the project has been spun as a “restoration” of the front “boat” section, sources within MDAH have verified that staff offices will not occupy this space, and that there are no plans for any occupancy of this much-beloved landmark in the foreseeable future. Instead, offices will be housed in the rear Marine building, leaving the front to look pretty (if you can overlook the metal building hovering over it) for a few years until it begins to show its lack of maintenance, the state being particularly guilty of not maintaining its occupied property much less its unoccupied property.
In short, this is a sham preservation project. Sham is a form of shame, and I guess that answers my question about whether this project and everyone on this sign belongs on the MissPres Wall of Shame.
For previous diatribes on this apparently unstoppable project, see:
- “What’s Going on at the Naval Reserve Center” (June 24, 2010)
- “MissPres News Roundup 6-4-2010” (June 4, 2010)
- “MissPres News Roundup 10-2-2009” (October 2, 2009)
and the first, innocent and naive notice of the project . . .
- “MissPres News Roundup 8-7-2009” (August 7, 2009)
Just as a little non-angry note, this is the first time I’ve seen the windows open–I had assumed they were standard double-sash windows but instead they’re cool awning types. Not sure if they crank out or what.
Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Mississippi Landmarks, MS Dept. of Archives and History, National Register, Renovation Projects
Hear, hear! Directly to the Wall of Shame. (Yes, very cool windows!)
I think I’ve found the problem; this whole project is as shrouded in secrecy as it can be with a great big sign out front. From the Clarion ledger, Sept. 3, 2010:
“Landmark building to house military records.
Crew members with Thrash Commercial Contractors Inc. of Brandon inspect the second-floor exterior of the old Naval Reserve Center at 181 Jefferson St. near the Mississippi Fairgrounds in Jackson. Project manager Adam Rees said the facility is being renovated into a Naval Reserve Record Center. The renovations and expansion for records storage is scheduled for completion next summer. The center was built in 1949 as a training facility for the Navy and Marine Corps, but it ended its naval functions in 2000.”
The accompanying photograph is attributed to Greg Jenson; I don’t know if he’s responsible for this navel-gazing caption. I’m supposing that if the press doesn’t know any better what’s going on, the people can’t be expected to (not to make excuses).
I remember seeing that photo, but I guess I was so discouraged by the lack of interest from the state capital’s newspaper of record that I forgot to post it in the next news roundup. I did include Bert Case’s equally uninformative and uninteresting tv spot about the project, which asked no questions of any merit about the Naval Reserve or the Hinds County Armory. It’s disheartening how easily our various news outlets accept the official line and never even try to scratch the surface of the story.
A sad day for me to learn of destruction of this building and the closure by the Navy department. I was stationed here as a marine during 1956-1959 and enjoyed some of the best years of my marine life here and living in Jackson, MS.