As you may recall from a News Roundup in June, the Gothic Revival-style Capitol Street Church of Christ suffered a fire that apparently started from a lightning strike. At the time, the Clarion-Ledger article mentioned that the primary damage was in the fellowship hall, which I took as a good sign. But unfortunately, as I found on a recent trip down West Capitol Street, the fellowship hall apparently was located in the old sanctuary, which is heavily damaged and still remains open to the elements.
I haven’t seen any follow-up to the initial article, so I’m not sure what the plan is for this building, but given that the roof hasn’t even been tarped, it doesn’t look promising. The old sanctuary was built in 1947, although stylistically it could have been built in the 1920s. West Capitol Street, the suburban home of Jackson’s wealthy and powerful elite from the 1910s through the early 1950s, has declined dramatically since the 1960s. Today, once grand structures such as the Masonic Temple are either vacant, burned out, or barely used. Many of the stylish homes are gone, victims of demolition or fire. Here and there are glimmers of hope in the midst of an otherwise dispiriting scene–let’s hope the Church of Christ is one of those.
Even farther back than this summer was the fire at Laurel’s Georgian Revival style masterpiece, the Stewart M. Jones Middle School, which occurred in May 2009. I was down in Laurel recently and thought I’d check on the progress of the renovation, expecting that it would either be complete or close to it. Imagine my surprise when I found that in fact, the only thing that’s complete is the demolition of the fire-damaged wing. No evidence of re-building or even plans for re-building were evident almost 18 months since the fire.
The school, built in 1926 and designed by Meridian architect P.J. Krouse–how I’d love to find a picture of him!–is a designated Mississippi Landmark and has received two grants from MDAH for rehabilitation (2003 and 2006). Presumably, the school district held insurance on this building, so why is it still sitting there? And is it possible that the school district has no intention of re-building the wing?