Jackson’s Lakewood Cemetery: Mississippi AIA Founding Generation’s Final Resting Place

It took me only two trips to Jackson’s Lakewood Cemetery–way out on West Capitol after it turns into Clinton Boulevard–to figure out that a significant number of our founding generation of professional architects had been laid to rest there. Overstreet, Naef, Malvaney, Canizaro, Spain, even Lindsley, who was living in Ocean Springs when he died in 1969. Since that second trip, I find myself looking around while at Lakewood funerals, fully expecting to find someone else I “know.” In fact, it was at a frigid graveside service this January that I stumbled onto the graves of James Spain and his son-in-law and partner Boyce Biggers, right next door, so to speak. Don’t worry, I waited until the service was over before taking the pictures.

Lakewood is a huge cemetery and was laid out in the 1920s as Jackson’s rich suburbs were growing out to the west. The landscaping is really beautiful, but the Yazoo Clay has turned the roads into roller coasters. The staff at the office–right in front–has always been very helpful in getting me the plots and helpful maps, but the in-ground markers make it more difficult to find particular graves than in older cemeteries with up-right markers. I enjoy wandering through cemeteries though, so no problem.

The Mississippi chapter of the American Institute of Architects got its charter in 1929–an inauspicious year in which to form an architectural organization. According to the history on the MS AIA website:

The first chapter meeting was held on January 8, 1930, at which time board of directors–also the founding members– were elected and instated. They included:

N.W. Overstreet (Jackson)  |   President
Emmett Hull (Jackson)  |  First Vice President
Vinson B. Smith, Jr. (Gulfport)  |  Secretary Treasurer
Frank P. Gates |  Executive Committee
D.B. Shourds  (Gulfport)  |  Executive Committee
Claude Lindsley (Jackson)  |  Executive Committee

Emmett Hull is buried in Cedar Lawn also on West Capitol but much closer to downtown. Frank Gates may be in Lakewood, but I’ve not yet located his obituary to verify that.

As you’ll see, a couple of our architects chose markers with subtle architectural detailing in a Greek key running around the edges. R.W. Naef’s is the only marker I’ve ever seen that has the A.I.A. symbol on it. Otherwise, these are simple unsentimental memorials for men who left Mississippi some of our most significant landmarks. Claude Lindsley’s marker is so minimal it doesn’t even convey his birth and death dates, adding even more mystery to our favorite mystery man.

Categories: Architectural Research, Historic Preservation

6 replies

  1. Beautiful and very interesting! I am amazed at all the things you research and share with us.


  2. I love cemeteries, too; they are a fascinating piece of history.


  3. It’s interesting that Canizaro’s headstone is the only one that has overt religious iconography. Was he the only catholic of this group?

    Are the circles at the center of the stones for holding flowers?

    Maybe the lack of dates on the Lindsley’s stone means they never died but mysteriously faded away?


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