From Charleston to Vicksburg, With Love

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Charleston, South Carolina, to attend the annual meeting of the Southern Society of Architectural Historians (which group, as you recall, met here in Jackson in 2009). I admit I skipped out on a few of the sessions, the weather being perfect for wandering and taking pictures. I have a bad habit of doing almost no research before my trips, so it was only this week as I was labeling my photos–using the very helpful Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City’s Architecture by Jonathan H. Poston–that I realized I had taken photos of three churches designed by Charleston architect Edward C. Jones.

Trinity Methodist Church (orig. Third Presbyterian Church), built 1848-50, Edward C. Jones, archt.

Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church, 7 Glebe Street. Built c.1847-48, repaired after fire damage 1938-39. Edward C. Jones, archt. Originally Glebe Street Presbyterian Church, sold to Mt. Zion in 1888.

Citadel Square Baptist Church, 338 Meeting Street (1855-56, steeple restored 1990-91). "Apparently" designed by Edward C. Jones and Francis D. Lee. Referred to as the "pure Norman" style by the Charleston Courier.

Talk about an architect who can pull off vastly different styles! Pure Greek Revival on top, I don’t know what–Egyptianish?–in the middle, and Romanesque Revival (often called “Norman” at the time) on the bottom. And all of those were built within a decade of each other.

Other than the fact that he was clearly a talented architect, why should I care much about Mr. Jones? Well, after the Civil War, in which Charleston took a beating for its role in starting the whole thing, Edward C. Jones lit out for the New South town of Memphis, TN, where he is now remembered as one of the city’s “most significant Victorian-era architects.” In 1870, he took on a commission down the Mississippi River in Vicksburg, designing a church that I know you all have noticed if you’ve been anywhere downtown, Church of the Holy Trinity. According to its entry in the new handy MDAH database,”

When it was completed in 1894, Holy Trinity was considered the finest ecclesiastical building in Mississippi, and it is significant today as the most outstanding example of the Romanesque Revival style in the state.

No ifs, ands or buts in that statement! Here’s why:

Church of the Holy Trinity, Vicksburg (1870-1894, Jones & Baldwin, archts., Stanton & McKenna, builders)

Comparing this church with the three churches above, I’m struck by the similarities with the Citadel Square Baptist Church, which interestingly enough is hedged in Poston’s book as “apparently” of Jones design.

I guess we can thank the Civil War for bringing Edward Jones into our neck of the woods and for giving us this beautiful church.



Categories: Architectural Research, Churches, Vicksburg

9 replies

  1. These are gorgeous churches! I can tell you are excited about getting these beautiful photos to us because my usual 6:00 a.m. email arrived before 5:30 this morning. I can only imagine the fulfillment Mr. Edward C. Jones must have felt upon completion of each of these. I have to wonder if the backs of the pews inside the Mt. Zion Presby church are as straight up and down as those pilasters atop the front door? :)

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  2. I was definitely excited about this post, so much so that I forgot that WordPress doesn’t recognize Daylight Savings Time, which is why you got the post so early. Thanks for reminding me to re-set the MissPres clock!

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  3. I remember visiting Holy Trinity in Vicksburg years ago. It is a remarkable building! i also look forward to seeing more pictures from Charleston!

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  4. The similarities are striking. He borrowed heavily from the Charleston church to create Holy Trinity. That’s for sure!

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  5. Thank you for these great images of beautiful buildings.

    When asked, “Where do we find the purest forms of history?”
    author David McCullough replied, “Architecture is a very pure one…”

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  6. Stylistically, Mt. Zion Church reminds me of the abstracted, avant-garde Neoclassicism of Sir John Soane. A similar design vocabulary can be seen in some of the work of Benjamin Latrobe and Robert Mills.

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  7. Was there a record of the 1930’s fire damage at Mt. Zion? The damage might have led to missing elements and a combination of styles just like the Lauderdale County Courthouse in Meridian.

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  8. Interesting to read this. I had seen his name when looking up the Dr. D.T. Porter Building in Memphis but could not find anything then.

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  1. Architects of Mississippi: William Stanton « Preservation in Mississippi

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