Just a handful of preservation related stories from around the state to share this week – so this roundup will be shorter than most. After you all read up on these stories, perhaps you want to spend some time contemplating the latest 101 Places Poll that went up on Friday.
I think the biggest story this week was the announcement by the Post Office that nearly 3,700 locations around the nation were on a list for “review” and consideration for closure. The list, which includes 61 Mississippi locations, focuses on offices in small towns and rural communities, but one that jumped out to me (and the the Dispatch) was the Downtown Columbus office which was completed in 1939. I know that for communities where a post office might be closing, such as Columbus, the concern is about the proximity of postal services to homes and/or businesses. My concern is more what will happen to the buildings themselves if the office is closed. Columbus is the only one on the Mississippi List that I could ID as an historic building (if anyone knows of another on the list, let us know), but I’d wager that there are others around the nation that are an important part of the historic fabric of their communities. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that USPS turns over the buildings of the closed offices to people who are able to find a new use for them.
The Fondren Strip in Jackson was back in the news this week. The Northside Sun reported that the Save Our Strip group has over 350 supporters on its petition now. The last report we saw about this issue (back in April) the Watkins were not in a position to move forward and were willing to consider other plans. This most recent story also indicates that they are not progressing forward – the economy getting the blame. The Save Our Strip group is still willing to talk over alternate plans that do not include demolishing the strip and David Watkins told the Sun he’d like to meet with the group. No meetings have been set, but I know I’ll be watching for news of one and curious to know what kind agreement (if any?) the two sides come to.
Also in the Northside Sun this week was a story about Jackson‘s request for bids to conduct a historic survey of the Belhaven neighborhood so that a National Register nomination for the district can be done. This project is one of the CLG Grants we announced back in April.
The Star out of Meridian shared the news that the city’s Main Street “has been designated as an accredited National Main Street Program for meeting the commercial district revitalization performance standards set by the National Trust Main Street Center.” Congrats to them for the recognition.
Sad news from Gulfport last week, although not unexpected. William Carey College is demolishing the entire campus on Beach Boulevard to leave a clear lot for sale as they have moved up to a new campus in the Reunion development north of I-10. The most historic building left on the campus, the old Junior High building of the Gulf Coast Military Academy, built in 1921 and damaged in Katrina, was coming down last week, according to the Sun-Herald. The college is salvaging the bricks and windows, but as we all know, salvage is not the same as preservation.
Pascagoula‘s Round Island Light House project was in the news from the Coast this week. The moving and reconstruction of the light house has not been the most popular of projects for some, but it is moving forward. Pascagoula’s City Council awarded a contract to a Moss Point company to rebuild the top portion of the structure. According to the article, there are still some plans for the project that need to be submitted for review by MDAH, but the City expects to have them this week.
Categories: Columbus, Cool Old Places, Gulf Coast, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Meridian, MS Dept. of Archives and History, News Roundups, Pascagoula
Newton has an extremely well-preserved Colonial Revival WPA post office building. The exterior looks mostly untouched, including a pair of cast-iron light fixtures flanking the entry walk and what looks like the original cupola-like clock tower. The inside is equally astonishing….it appears all the entry vestibule, casework, trim, finishes and requisite mural have not been touched. Even the fittings are intact. It’s well worth a day trip.
If I remember correctly, Carthage also has a pretty intact WPA post office building.
In my neck of the woods….the Piney Woods, to be exact, Hattiesburg’s PO is still standing, but, sadly, my hometown- Laurel- erased their PO and replaced it with a ca.1960, which itself is a pretty good small town modernist structure.
On a different subject, Bell Telephone built switching stations, ( I think that’s what they were/are) across the state. Some of them are worth a look.
Doesn’t the Pre-modernist Post Office still stand in Laurel? I thought it was right across the street from the city hall. It serves as a bank now.
The current PO in Laurel is one of my favorite Modern Post Office exteriors. I believe that the firm that designed it also designed the Biloxi down town Post Office.
The Bell Telephone buildings are pretty neat. With the microwave towers becoming obsolete, I wonder if they will be the next generation of service objects to be preserved, similar to the movement water towers are seeing now.
I also LOVE the Hattiesburg P.O.! https://misspreservation.com/2010/03/04/why-i-want-to-live-at-hattiesburgs-art-deco-p-o/