Mississippi Architect, March 1964: South Hills Branch Library

Jackson’s South Hills Branch Library was the Mississippi subject of the March 1964 issue of Mississippi Architect. Now known as Richard Wright Library, the building is still in use as a library, although the original front entrance is now sadly neglected in favor of a side entrance off of the parking lot. Next time you’re headed down McDowell Road in South Jackson, stop and take a second look at this Modernist building.

Notice also the night-time photograph, which in the magazine comes just two pages before the “Americans Are Becoming Night People.” 


South Hills Branch Library

Godfrey, Bassett & Pitts

ARCHITECTS were faced with four major problems as they designed this branch library. Problem number one was the need to provide separate reference and reading areas for adults and children, yet be able to supervise both reading areas and the front and rear entrances with a staff of one.

Problem number two was the need for the building to assert itself as a cultural center of the community without having it clash with its residential neighbors.

Third, a conference and meeting room was required which could be used by community and reading groups at night when the library was closed. The problem here was to provide one set of toilet rooms which would be accessible to the library by day and the meeting room by night.

Problem number four was the necessity to work within a tight budget.

The solution was an L-shaped plan with adult reading in one area and children’s reading in the other, permitting the librarian’s desk to be located in the intersection of the two areas. From this point the librarian has complete surveillance of the stacks, both reading areas, and both entrances.

The meeting room and toilet facilities were situated off the rear entry foyer where the toilet rooms would be available to either library or meeting room. This makes it possible for either library or the meeting room to operate independently of each other by locking doors in either area. The building was constructed within the prescribed budget.


This article is reprinted from the March 1964 issue of the Mississippi Architect, with permission from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. To view the full March 1964 issue of Mississippi Architect in a digitized format, or other articles in this ongoing series, including the pdf version of each full issue, click on the MSArcht tab at the top of this page.

Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson, Libraries

1 reply

  1. What a beautiful beginning for my day! I eagerly await my 6:00 a.m. email every morning to see what you will be bringing us. Today and yesterday were awesome! I know the 60’s were filled with some troubling times, but the new archtitecturural creations of those times are so interesting. St. Michael’s was so perfect with scalloped seashell roof and round floor plan encircling those within with Christ’s love.

    Your choice of story to highlight today stole my heart as it brings to mind one of my favorite obsessions – Frank Lloyd Wright. This library, with its courtyard, stone work, authors’ names on the architrave and beautiful natural setting. . . I think FLLW would approve and would have a difficult time figuring out how they did it within budget – something he rarely – if ever – did. The architects’ elevations are reminiscent of his work too. The night photo is so pretty. Kudos to the architects for a design that met all the tight demands being placed on them for interior visibility of patrons at all times, keeping within the setting of its neighborhood surroundings and above all else staying within the budget. And thank you, once again, for all the time you put in to bringing us so many pretty things to look at and great stories to read!!!


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