To finish off our end-of-the-year list series for the week, today and tomorrow we’ll cover the National Register listings, fourteen in all. Since these are more text-heavy than the Mississippi Landmark or demolition lists, I’m splitting this into two posts, so that you can spend a little time with each of these incredibly diverse historic properties.
Just like last year, Bill Gatlin, architectural historian and National Register coordinator at MDAH, has provided the following summaries, and all photos are courtesy MDAH.
The University of Southern Mississippi Historic District
Hattiesburg, Forrest County
The University of Southern Mississippi Historic District includes the twenty-three historic buildings, one lake and the planned landscape that forms the historic core of the University campus in Hattiesburg. The buildings range in style from the Colonial Revival style introduced by architect R. H. Hunt in his initial campus plan through the International style-inspired Marsh Hall. Buildings housing almost all the functions of the University are represented in the district including housing, classroom, administration, library, social, religious and, even a powerhouse. The buildings in the USM Historic District illustrate the growth of the school from a small normal school to a regional college to a modern, comprehensive university. The University of Southern Mississippi Historic District was listed on March 10, 2010. Bill Gatlin, MDAH architectural historian, wrote the nomination.
Poplar Hill School
Fayette vicinity, Jefferson County
Poplar Hill School in Jefferson County is a rare example of a rural school built in the early 20th century to serve the surrounding African American community. The one-story wood frame building with a side-gable metal roof was built c. 1923 and housed two classrooms. Two teachers were responsible for educating students from grades 1 through 8. The building was heated with a wood stove. The school closed in 1957 when students were transferred to New Liddell Grade School in Fayette. The building has since been used by the Poplar Hill AME Church and the local community for social gatherings and church meetings. Poplar Hill School was listed on March 10, 2010. Antoinette Stewart and Rosevelt Cruel, members of the Poplar Hill AME Church, wrote the nomination.
Sucarnoochee River Fishweir
Porterville vicinity, Kemper County
Fishweir technology has been documented over most of North America and the design principles and construction techniques are derived from an historical continuum dating back thousands of years. Largely unchanged over time, the basic design is a V-shaped dam with an opening for a trap at the downstream apex. The function is unchanged as well, mass procurement of food. The Sucarnoochee River Fishweir represents one of the better preserved fishdams found in Mississippi and is exemplary of the style and construction techniques used throughout history. Fishweirs are disappearing due to such modern practices as stream channelization, along with natural erosion, silting and channel displacement. The Sucarnoochee River Fishweir was listed on March 10, 2010. John Connaway, MDAH staff archaeologist, wrote the nomination.
Jackson, Hinds County
Castle Crest, located in Jackson’s Woodland Hills Neighborhood, is perhaps the finest example of a Tudor Revival residence in the state. J. Frazer Smith, prominent Memphis architect, designed the home for Jackson businessman I.W. Merrill in 1930. The exterior of the house exemplifies the Tudor Revival style in its steeply pitched and cross-gabled roof, asymmetrical and eclectic façade, semi-hexagonal turret with crenellations, casement windows with leaded glass lights, cast-stone trim around window openings, massive chimneys, Tudor arched door openings, and half-timbering in the gable ends. The interior also reflects Tudor Revival details with Tudor arched doors, cased openings with surrounding plasterwork made to resemble stone quoining, heavy dark-wood beamed ceilings, dark stained trim work, oak flooring in varying patterns, decorative stenciling with medieval motifs, iron and glass light fixtures, metal railings with medieval motifs, and a replica of a stone fireplace from Warwick Castle in England. Castle Crest was listed on March 22, 2010. David Preziosi, Executive Director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust, wrote the nomination.
George Washington Brett House
West vicinity, Attala County
The George Washington Brett House in rural Attala County is a significant reminder of the exploration and settlement of the county. Overlooking the nearby Arnold Mountain, the oldest portion of the house is a two-story frame cabin built c. 1860 by George Washington Brett. In 1883, his son Henry Moccasin Brett added a one-story addition. Both these sections are fine examples of the vernacular building trades with hand-planed ceiling boards, plank floors and four-panel doors. The current owners moved an 1834 log cabin from Choctaw County and added it to the house. Contributing outbuildings include a smokehouse, the Old Dug Well, and a two-seat outhouse. A whimsical tree house, constructed from storm-damaged trees, is noncontributing due to its recent construction. Once the hub of a bustling area, the Brett House is the only historic homestead of the original dozen or so in the area that survives. The Brett House was listed on July 8, 2010. Mary Weatherly, the homeowner, wrote the nomination.
George Street Grocery
Jackson, Hinds County
The George Street Grocery, built in 1909, is a rare example of a neighborhood grocery store in Jackson. Serving its near north side neighborhood, the building housed a neighborhood market until 1960. Famed author, Eudora Welty, grew up around the corner and her autobiographical essay, “The Little Store,” recorded her childhood recollection of trips to the nearby store recalling the smells of licorice and brined pickles and the colorful jars filled with candy. The George Street Grocery is also a significant example of the two-part commercial block building which had a retail space on the first floor and residential space on the second floor. The George Street Grocery was listed on July 8, 2010. Carolyn E. Wray, design consultant, wrote the nomination.
Old Bay St. Louis Historic District
Bay St. Louis, Hancock County
The Old Bay St. Louis Historic District represents the rigorous reassessment of the city’s historic resources in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 which caused extreme damage to the city’s historic fabric. The new district includes the extant sections of the Beach Boulevard Historic District as well as a large residential area to the west of the old historic district boundaries. The western expansion also absorbs the Washington Street Historic District. The Old Bay St. Louis Historic District is composed of 504 acres and 681 contributing resources, including four cemeteries and two religious shrines. The district contains the most significant collection of residential, commercial, governmental and institutional buildings in the city. It reflects the unique history of Bay St. Louis which grew from a small coastal community on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The city is best known as a favored summer resort, first for wealthy white French Creoles from New Orleans and planters from the Natchez district, and then later northerners who came for the pleasant winter climate. Ethnically diverse from its early days, “the Bay” attracted Catholic, French-speaking “Creoles of Color” and other African Americans. Its many Catholic institutions form the cultural nexus of the community. The district is architecturally diverse and features a wide variety of vernacular and high-style buildings. The Old Bay St. Louis Historic District was listed on July 8, 2010. Claudia Watson, consulting architectural historian, wrote the nomination.