Homogeneously Eclectic Yazoo City Storefronts

Yazoo City’s downtown may qualify as the most homogenous in the state, by which I mean of the same period and of a piece. As most of you probably know, a great fire took out a couple dozen blocks of buildings, both commercial and residential in May 1904. According to the Lexington Herald, “every business house of importance [was] in ashes.” Almost immediately, businessmen started over, and within only a few years, they had Main Street and its side streets back up and running and truly “better than before.”

You can see the physical remnants of this great rebuilding still today.

On a recent visit to Yazoo City, I noticed that while the buildings themselves all fit neatly together, the storefronts–always the most trendy part of a commercial building–had a lot of variation. I actually only found a couple of storefronts that appears intact to the c.1905 era, but I found a whole number of them that seem to have been redone in the “Mid-Century Modern” period. As you recall, this is the same period that I extolled in “The Beauty of Modern Storefronts” a couple of years ago.

Very cool edgy storefront on Broadway

I was disheartened to see that while someone has been painting the facades in . . . colorful palettes, there were quite a number of vacant storefronts, including the colorful ones. Even with the vacancies, take a walk down Yazoo City’s Main Street next time you’re passing through. I have my favorites of the bunch, you will too!

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Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Historic Preservation, Modernism, Yazoo City

8 replies

  1. Pastel storefronts – anywhere but the beach – 2 thumbs down!


  2. I will offer a dissenting voice, if qualified to agree with Malvaney in this particular instance. There are places where pastel storefronts can work well, and they are not necessarily at the beach. In this case, I agree that they are not original and are probably not the best choice to have made. On the other hand, we are generally far too afraid of color and allowing more color into our world is not always a bad thing. The multi-colored palette of South Beach in Miami is certainly not acceptable by any historic standard, yet it has worked in a way that none could have predicted. In this case, the colors are astringent and look like a box of Sweet tarts was sprayed through a fire hose. I still hate to see color dismissed out-of-hand so easily.


  3. For a sans-dayglo version of these great Yazoo City streetscapes, have another look at the bank robbery scene from “O Brother Where Art Thou.” The movie is an American classic, and I love the distractions of guessing the filming locations: Canton square! Ruins of Windsor! Downtown Edwards (before unfortunate replacement of quaint timber railroad bridge)!


  4. My favorite is the store with the blue and the store with the black carerra glass, and those recessed entries. Bring back cool display windows!


  5. Great Post! In America production of structural pigmented glass had stopped by 1947. I propose that any of the storefronts that use the brands Virtolite (Libby-Owens-Ford. Parkersburg, WVa.) Carrara (Penn-American Plate Glass, Alexandria, Ind.) or Sani Onyx (Marietta Manufacturing Company. Marietta, Ohio) might date to the 1930’s or 1940’s


    • Thanks for that tidbit! I’ll definitely be revising my estimated dates for storefronts based on that piece of information. I think the blue really futuristic storefront is not in fact glass but a colored panel of some sort, maybe a Masonite-type product with an enameled outer surface?


      • I didn’t mean to infer that you had any structural glass store fronts dated to after 1947 in the post (you say post WWII which is totally before ’47). I have to correct my previous statement. Vitrolite was not produced after 1947. Structural glass was falling out of favor by the 1950’s. U.S. production was ceased by the early 1960’s Products called “Cararra glass” are still produced overseas.

        I know the type of colored panel you are talking about. I’m not sure what they are made of. Sounds like a future blog post!


  6. The colors on the painted buildings aren’t pastel, they are LSD acid! How sad that wasn’t a preservation society or city planning commision in place to prevent such a nightmarish transformation.


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