Is that a hole in First Christian?

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.



Categories: Abandoned Mississippi, Churches, Demolition/Abandonment, Jackson

13 replies

  1. After leaving a comment yesterday regarding the foundation of First Christian on the earlier post “Abandoned Mississippi: First Christian Church,” I find this this morning. I stand abashed; my blood begins to heat anew and the indignation-o-meter is rising — all of which is no doubt good to stimulate me in the mornings anyway. Thanks, ELMalvaney and to everyone else involved in this wonderful blog .

    By the way, these “vantage points” are curious. Yesterday I saw your photographs of First Christian and First Baptist on flickr as I googled about First Christian. So I decided that you had one of those micro-airplanes you folded up and put in the trunk of your motor car so it was always available to you. Looking at these photographs, I begin to think that, in addition, you tow a flatbed trailer with a cherry-picker hoist. However you do these photographs, kudos — but your mpg must be very low!

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  2. It would be incredibly cool to have a micro-airplane (or could we call it a “drone”?) to get pictures of some of these large and difficult buildings! But no in this case, I was very luck on my third vantage point (the last two pictures here) to find a knoll (not grassy) over by Jefferson Street that gave me a good perspective on the roof. I had to use my longest zoom, which is why the last shot is a little grainy, but no cherry picker was involved, thank goodness–those things always look like they’re about to topple over!

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  3. Excellent sleuthing and observations! Seems to me, as has been commented before by others, this is the waiting game and 1stBC is going to let Mother Nature take the blame for destroying this beautiful church. Same as Capitol St. Meth.

    Your today’s post is sign to me not to remain silent on yesterday’s article in Tupelo’s Daily Journal regarding First Baptist Church Tupelo decision to demolish 100 year old home “Pre-tornado house” for parking. All day yesterday I was about to pop thinking about this and now, today, your post today is so disturbing! 1stBC Tupelo is not even going to try to sell the house for a nominal fee so someone could buy it and move it. There was no mention in the article of salvaging anything. Sounds like some “creative” politic-ing went on during the meeting to get this old house destroyed but 75 yr old Rogers home is on hold. Hmmm, it could be coming down too?

    Google: pre tornado house to come down for parking, and read the story. The comments below the story are interesting, especially the one from the director of Christian Women’s Corps that is presently leasing the house. Her pen name is “just as I am.” CWC helps women learn new job skills, trains them for going on job interviews and how to dress for success. They even provide them with previously worn business suits to wear to interviews. CWC relocated to the house 2 years ago for more room for computer training and classroom space. The interior was brightened with new paint and other makeover updates for a cheerful and attractive place to receive a new lease on life.

    Grrrrr & Argh! to both 1stBCs, for their decisions!!!

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  4. Sad to see this. One would think that a use for the building could be found. Has the FBC any interest in selling the property?

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  5. In answer to Mr. Barnes’ question, “Has FBC any interest in selling the property?” The Daily Journal article states 1stBC wants to use the property for a parking lot – not sell the property that the pre-tornado house is on.

    I understand the need for more parking. I do not understand demolishing this wonderful house before trying to sell it to one who might want to buy it and move it to a different location or trying to sell the windows, floors and doors.

    Often times those making “executive” decisions have no knowledge of or appreciation for historically significant architecture. It takes a loud voice to save things worthy of being saved (and lots of $$$.) The fact that the house is almost 100 years old and that it survived the horrible tornado of 1936 in which over 100 people were killed should count for something. This is the same baloney as the Lowndes County Supervisors seeking to demolish the Craftsman bungalow FOR MORE PARKING!

    Bottom line – it’s allllll about the money. You reckon they are thinking if members and guests don’t have to park in far-off places and walk (heaven forbid) a long way to the church, maybe that will increase attendance which may lead to increasing the dollars in the alms basins?

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  6. Driving to work today I noticed a “for sale” sign in the front of First Christian… aside from the fact the hole in the roof appears fixed.

    Looks like First Baptist is looking to unload this property… so hopefully the word will get out.

    It will be wonderful to see this property back in action… sooner than later!

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  7. Has there been any further word on this place being sold or for sale?

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    • It is for sale, and I had heard (maybe 12-18 months ago) that a developer was interested in turning the back part into apartments and the sanctuary into a gathering space of some sort. I haven’t heard anything more about that recently, so I’m not sure if it’s still in the works or not.

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