Old Capitol Follies: Almost a Panic in the Senate!

In the last Old Capitol Follies, the American Architect and Building News gave us a serious look at Jackson in 1890, including the sad shape of the Old Capitol. By 1896, the building had declined even further as legislators debated whether to spend the money to fix it up or build a completely new building. Today’s article from the past, brought to us by the Jackson bureau of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, back when newspapers maintained bureaus in other important cities in their region, tells us about the study the solons requested to help them decide which way to go. As architects who smell a big commission are sometimes wont to do, “Architect Weathers” said the Old Capitol was too far gone to even consider repairing, and in fact shouldn’t even be occupied. Panic ensued, and since this is Mississippi, the panic was debated in splendid and humorous fashion.

“Architect Weathers” could be either Lundie Monroe or his nephew, Patrick Henry, who practiced in Memphis for a while as Weathers & Weathers. Patrick Henry moved down to Jackson by the early 1900s, where he designed several landmarks still with us, including St. Peter’s Catholic Church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and the old Central Fire Station (now the Chamber of Commerce). He also gave us some sweet courthouses, Marion and Lamar, and that nice old bank in Yazoo City. Not bad for a few years of work before he moved on to greener pastures in Oklahoma.

ALMOST A PANIC IN THE SENATE

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Architect Weathers’ Report Called Forth Resolution

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To Adjourn Until Another Hall Could Be Secured

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One Senator Said He Wanted to be an Angel

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But Was Willing to Wait While–The Majority Decided to Take Chances in the Old Capitol

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THE PICAYUNE BUREAU
218 Capitol Street
Jackson, Miss., Feb. 24, 1896.

The report of Architect Weathers as to the condition of the state capitol, together with drawings thereof, contained exclusively in the Picayune to-day, has created a wide-spread sensation.

When read in the senate Mr. Clinton offered a resolution adjourning until tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock and instructing the sergeant-at-arms to provide another hall for the use of the senate. Mr. Clinton was no sensationalist, and yet he thought it prudent not to meet longer in a building condemned by architect after architect as dangerous.

Senator Miller spoke strongly in favor of the resolution. Loved ones at home, who were uneasy at the occupancy of the building, were anxious for the senators to secure another domicile.

Mr. Noel was in favor of a new capitol and was ready to vote for one, but he opposed the resolution.

Mr. Smith spoke strongly in favor of the resolution. He wanted to be an angel some time, but not immediately. Like Senator Miller he cited the collapse of the public building at Richmond and the Ford Theatre in Washington particularly, and asked Mr. Noel if a catastrophe should overtake this building and a single man should be hurt, Mr. Noel having voted “no,” if it would not be a sorrow and regret which would cling to him until the grave had intervened.

Mr. Noel said he asked no senator to take any risk he was not taking himself. Mr. Moore spoke eloquently in favor of the resolution.

The resolution was lost by a vote of 14 to 17. There were fourteen absentees. A number of senators who voted against selecting another hall are strongly pronounced in favor of a new capitol building.

While this resolution was being discussed the dropping of a pin could have been heard. The speeches were suggestive of funeral orations.

The report was read in the house this afternoon, and in the Picayune by everybody.

Architect Weathers was invited by resolution in both house and senate and answered questions and explained at great length and detail his report.

Mr. Weathers is being universally complimented upon his elaborate and painstaking report.

New Orleans Times Picayune, Feb. 25, 1896, p. 14

I found this article with a one-day subscription to the Times-Picayune archive online, which is searchable by keyword. Unfortunately, I don’t know whether through a glitch on my side or something that didn’t get scanned on their side, I couldn’t find the architectural drawings alluded to in the first paragraph. If anyone else has a subscription to the archive, or has access to the microfilm version, maybe you could see whether you have better luck. I’d love to have the drawings to post!



Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson

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