Architectural Twins–Jackson Bungalows

Well, when I wrote my first post on architectural twins, I certainly didn’t expect it to become an on-going series, but I think this might be the fourth post on that theme, which means it was meant to be a series, I just didn’t know it.

Even before I moved to Jackson, I had seen this house, located in the Belhaven Heights Historic District. That’s because the invaluable architectural guide A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia and Lee McAlester was required reading in my one course on historic preservation. “McAlester” as everyone refers to the guide, is still the standard for field guides–well-designed, based on broad coverage of the American landscape, and easy to read and carry around with you while staring at buildings.

Mississippi is well represented in McAlester, not just in the Greek Revival where you would expect, but also in Italianate (Howry House, Oxford), Neoclassical (“Fairview, Jackson), Queen Anne (two sweet cottages in Biloxi), and a few other styles and vernacular types. The McAlesters describe each style in a few pages, with major subtypes for each broken out and compared, and handy drawings depicting the important elements.

The sturdy bungalow above is in the Craftsman section, of course, in the “Front-Gabled Roof” subtype, and this is the description (p. 457):

Jackson, Mississippi, 1910s. This photograph emphasizes the triangular knee braces commonly used in the gable ends of Craftsman houses. The slightly tapered porch-roof supports, extending from ground level, are of irregular brick masonry. Note how the main roof extends over the porch.

Unfortunately, my photo above doesn’t emphasize those triangular knee braces like the McAlesters’ does–I was constrained by misplaced automobiles, trees, and a person in the yard scowling at me.

Never fear though, just a few blocks away, on West Street north of the New Capitol and facing Greenwood Cemetery, is a twin of this bungalow–not identical but definitely fraternal–and I was able to get some more comprehensive pictures there.

Unfortunately, the West Side twin has fallen on hard times, and I’m glad I got these pictures before it gets worse. As you can see, the center piers seen on the Belhaven Heights bungalow are shortened here, with hefty concrete caps on top.

The “irregular” brickwork noted in McAlester is also here, but the concrete geometric “capitals” on the piers are slightly different.

Here you get a sense of just how big those triangular knee braces are and how deep that front eave is! Unfortunately, you can also see that the elements are ravaging the building.

Interestingly, both houses have roll roofing, rather than asphalt or asbestos shingles. I don’t know much about the history behind them, except that City Directory evidence indicates that the Belhaven Heights house was built in the early 1910s and was owned by W.A. Chichester. The houses had the same builder presumably; possibly an architect was involved, or more probably they are based on a published plan from one of the many mail-order plan houses that had sprung up by the early 20th century.

I still hold out hope that someone will take this project on–only a few blocks from the Mississippi Supreme Court building–and restore this once-proud bungalow, but time is running out for this set of twins.

Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson

8 replies

  1. Thanks for mentioning that architectural guide. I’d not heard of it, but think I’d find it interesting.

    This blog is really cool. Abandoned buildings have always fascinated me, and as Jackson native now living far away, I can’t help rooting for these old buildings to be fixed up again. This house (the more weathered one) seems to have so much potential.


  2. No matter how many times I see a building melting away into the ground it always make it more disturbing see an example of what it could be near by.

    Good catch Malvaney! I had never noticed this house in McAlister’s before. In the book the photo above the Belhaven Heights house always caught my eye as it’s a bungalow in Canton next to the Young Bungalow from a post a little over a year ago.


  3. When we were living in Belhaven, we loved our little “unique” cottage at 1827 Lycrest,… we were riding around Fondren one day, west side of State, and came upon our house, albeit in a different color and with some strange renovations, as well as it being in a much worse condition… I never wrote down the address,… but there are other twins out there!


  4. What a shame that this little diamond in the rough is being allowed to slip away. I hope someone will rescue it before it is too late. Any idea who owns it?


  5. I am afraid of the answer, but what happened to this house on West Street? Does anyone have the approximate address?


  6. It’s still there, looking about the same, at least on the exterior. Not sure of its address, but here it is on a Bing map. It’s on the west side of the intersection with E. Davis Street:


    • Thank you! I have just had a few moments of fun google-mapping there following your giving of the intersection. While it is good that the place is still standing, it is a shame it appears so neglected. Have to close out on the computer due to impending arrival of guests, but, again, thanks!


  7. Speaking of look alikes…our former home at 421 South Washington in Greenville has a twin on Grand Avenue in Greenwood. Both built, I assume in the 1920s on what was then the posh new part of town.


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