Just before the New Year, MissPres reader “M” (who, I’m told, is a first cousin twice removed from James Bond’s “Q”), alerted us in a comment left on “Friends We Lost in 2011” that there appears to be a large leak or maybe even hole in the roof of Jackson’s First Christian Church. As you may recall, we highlighted the plight of this mid-century Gothic Revival church in “Abandoned Mississippi: First Christian Church” last April.
To check on this roof hole, I took a little trip downtown this last lovely weekend and found a couple of vantage points to take a look. Sure enough, it does appear that there’s a section of the roof without shingles, although due to the shadow from the steeple and the very long zoom I was using, I wasn’t able to verify its extent.
This may seem like a relatively tiny problem, but as those of us who noticed the slight swag in the roof of Capitol Street Methodist Church only a couple of years ago came to realize, small problems in the roof, left unaddressed for a few years, can translate into a lost building.
There has been some allegation of foundation problems at First Christian. As M later noted on a walk-around and as I also noticed when I walked around the building last year, there is not obvious recent cracking in the brick walls of this steel-frame building, and earlier cracking that was repaired probably in the late 1980s seems to have remained repaired. So, I have to agree with M that, without other evidence of foundation problems, the roof is really the most pressing issue with this building.
First Baptist is a huge congregation, and I know there are dedicated members of that church who love historic architecture. My hope is that some of them will step forward to try to come up with a viable use for First Christian and bring this beautiful downtown building back to life. We have enough empty lots on the eastern end of downtown to greet visitors, we don’t need another one, especially when this building has got such presence even in its abandoned state.