Last week, Tom Freeland posted a picture of the cornerstone of Jackson’s new federal courthouse on his blog, NMissCommentor, in a post title “It’s 2010. Do you know who your president is?” In a detail I failed to catch when I was taking pictures of the building for my rant about the building’s bigger-is-better architecture, the cornerstone, in addition to the completion date of 2010, reads “George W. Bush, President.” Tom, in his lawyerly way, shares the federal regulation that brought about this seemingly anachronistic cornerstone, a regulation that essentially says that whoever was president
during project development prior to construction, if construction is completed during a subsequent President’s term of office
gets his name on the plaque or cornerstone.
Now I’ve seen a lot of cornerstones in my day, but I don’t recollect ever seeing one two years into a president’s term with the last president’s name on it. Rest assured I will keep my eyes peeled for any other examples of this practice. No doubt as design development turns into a decade or longer process, this kind of thing will happen more frequently.
As Tom also noted, the year of completion on the cornerstone reads “2010,” which seems like a little more hopeful thinking than reality, but this is not uncommon, since theoretically, the cornerstone is laid closer to the beginning of construction than the completion.
Anyway, with that on my mind, but completely by coincidence, I was wandering through Walker Engineering Building at Mississippi State this week, and I came across this oddity:
While I have possibly seen examples of cornerstones like the errant federal courthouse cornerstone–and just missed the fact that the president’s name didn’t match the year–I know for a fact I’ve never seen an example like this, with two different plaques, one for when the project started and the other for two years later when it was finished. It almost makes me think of two little boys each trying to outdo the other to get a girl’s attention. “Oh yeah, but look what I did!”
It seems like Ross Barnett would have had other things on his mind than whether the plaque in Walker Hall had his name on it, but apparently not. I don’t know the full story though–maybe Coleman had the bottom plaque cast his last week in office for a building that wasn’t even in the design stages yet just to put a finger in Barnett’s eye? I’ll bet somebody out there knows.
Usually, I admit, I skip over all those boring political names and head for the bottom where the names of the people who actually had something to do with this building are listed (or not, as the case sometimes frustratingly is). I’ll be paying more attention to all those other government officials’ names from now on, guaranteed!
While pondering this little end-of-week story, remember that today is the last day for the Northeast poll, which has made a comeback of sorts, with total votes at least in the four figures now, mostly, it seems through a surge in Tupelo voting. The poll closes tonight at midnight or whenever I go to bed, so if you haven’t voted, do it now!