Miles to go before I sleep

I try to avoid going to Lemuria Books, our independent bookstore here in Jackson, because I always end up spending large sums of money. But I never succeed in staying away for too long.

Recently, I grabbed a huge book off the shelf called 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die. Weighing in at around 10 pounds, 1001 Buildings combines stunning imagery of world landmarks with succinct descriptions and historical information, and stretches from pre-historic times through the present.

I’m not sure whether to be depressed or challenged by my progress so far: 22 out of 1001.

My List, now that I’m past the halfway point to “three score and ten” years:




I do think it’s a real snub for the list to include the British Houses of Parliament and not the U.S. Capitol.

And of course, there’s no Mississippi building here, or even New Orleans. I’m going to count the U.S. Capitol as 1002, and our Mississippi New Capitol as 1003, which means I’ve seen 24.

That still leaves, what, 979 to go? Let’s hope I make better progress in the next 38 years.

Categories: Books

11 replies

  1. Is it possible that the US Capitol was left out because its appearance has changed several times in its history? Without checking out the whole list that might be my only guess.


  2. NOTHING in Mississippi? And they include the overrated Louis Kahn building? The Kimbell is interesting, but only just so. I should think that Longwood would be included instead.


  3. Oh you’re right, Longwood should be there. And that reminds me of Waverly, which I would recommend to anyone in the world to see before they die. So our list is up to 1005, which is just as doable as 1001.

    I did like the Kimball, but you’ve got a point–why is it on the list and not other just as interesting buildings? I thought Renzo Piano’s Reagan National Airport could have been on there too, just as much as Charles de Gaulle, which is definitely a beautiful airport, but (to me) more confusing in its layout and functions than National.

    As for the U.S. Capitol vs. Parliament, a little-known fact, or at least not known to me before I toured there, but the House of Commons has been completely rebuilt since WWII, when it was destroyed by German bombers. So, as I see it, both buildings have had changes, or have evolved with their country’s history. They provide different experiences for sure, but standing on the Mall looking at the Capitol at dusk is an amazing experience, why not include it?


  4. I, of course, am not quite sure of the buildings on that list as being “must see” buildings. I certainly would never go to the Disney Concert Hall, Sears Tower, or Kimbell Art Museum. I would go to the art museum to look at the art, ignoring the hideous building, like I did when I went to the High Museum in Atlanta. The only thing the Sears Tower has going for it is height, not design. The only thing the Disney Concert Hall had going for it was that it was the only building in the world to act as a death ray, melting trash cans, plastic bottles, and plastic people (there’s a lot of plastic surgery in L.A.) who happened to stand within a block or two of its polished metal surfaces. As for the suggestion of the Mississippi State Capitol, I would say maybe. The U.S. Capitol definately; the Mississippi State Capitol maybe. If the Mississippi State Capitol deserves a spot on the list, most American state capitols deserve a spot. Afterall, Mississippi and many other states basically copied the U.S. Capitol and then made various changes. If the Mississippi State Capitol deserves on the list then the Old Mississippi State Capitol, the Alabama State Capitol, the Old Louisiana State Capitol, the Louisiana State Capitol, and the Tennessee State Capitol all deserve higher places on the list.

    Why don’t we create our own Mississippi list of 101 (or 1001 depending on ambitiousness) “Buildings You Must See Before You Die.” There would be room for both Mississippi State Capitols, Longwood, Waverly, Windsor Ruins, plus about a dozen mansions each from Columbus, Vicksburg, and Natchez. This could be Preservation in Mississippi poll #2. I am fine with people voting on this poll; they got the last one right. Federal/Greek Revival received more votes than all the modern styles combined. I feel vindicated, and it feels good. “It’s Miller Time!”


  5. I’m going out on a limb here to say that I think the New Capitol has a higher place on the list than the Old Capitol, speaking only on architectural merit. For one thing, the New Capitol is much more intact than the Old Capitol, the OC having suffered from over a decade of complete abandonment, two roofs blowing off in hurricanes, a major interior gutting to become a state office building and another major gutting and insertion of steel framing to become a historical museum.

    The Kimball is far from hideous–in fact, I found it quite serene. As for the first death-ray building, well, there’s something to be said for a death-ray building, and if it melts all the plastic people, so much the better, in my book!

    Re: Poll 2, that’s a great idea. Got to figure out how to do a completely fill-in-the-blank poll, but that would be fun!


    • I didn’t realize that the Old Capitol had been through so much meddling. I bought Skates’s book on the building a few months ago from the Starkville Library Booksale for $1 but haven’t gotten around to reading it.

      You could say the same for the Alabama State Capitol and Old Louisiana State Capitol. Both have been messed with over the years. The Alabama State Capitol has not been gutted but both the Senate and House chambers were made into offices when additions were made to the Capitol. They were reconstructed sometime in the 1960s, I think. If I remember correctly, both chambers were fairly accurately restored due to photographs of both areas existing from their pristine state. Of course, the Alabama State Capitol is still a Capitol after 160 years, not just a museum. If I remember correctly, the Old Louisiana State Capitol was gutted during the Union occupation of Baton Rouge. The only things historic in the interior date to the 1870s and 80s.


    • The only thing I don’t like about your current poll is that I have no idea what the 4 “other” votes are.

      Logistically, it might be difficult to have a 101-blank write-in poll. I might have to start making my list now, because it will probably take a while.


      • I know, that was a surprise to me too. I thought people would be able to fill in their vote and then everyone else could see it and vote on it, which is what we would need for the poll for the 101. I’ve done a little more research and I just don’t see that that is possible. We can send a man to the moon, but . . .

        Actually, we probably can’t send a man to the moon anymore, so that little saying needs to be revised.


  6. I would like to add two lovely private homes in Jackson’ Woodland Hills neighborhood:

    Castle Crest, a 1929 Tudor “castle” designed by J. Frazer Smith


  7. And something totally different, the 1951 Wiener House designed by William and Samuel Wiener, who were among the South’s first modernists.



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