Gulf Park Update

Intrepid MissPreser and Gulf Coast preservation reporter Mark Davis took note of recent comments on the March 2010 Gulf Park post and went down to the campus, located right on Beach Boulevard in Long Beach, to see the state of things for himself. As you may recall if you’ve stuck around here for a while, Gulf Park’s campus, now under the umbrella of the University of Southern Mississippi, was badly damaged by Katrina’s storm surge. One of the historic buildings, the old art building and later Cox Library, was practically destroyed and was torn down pretty quickly after the storm. That left three larger 1920s buildings at the front of campus, all of which had been washed through by the surge: Hardy Hall and the Administration Building (the two original buildings, 1921, Rathbone DeBuys archt.) and Lloyd Hall (a later dormitory, 1926, N.W. Overstreet archt.). All three of these buildings are in a Mediterranean or Spanish style, with Hardy probably being the most visible and iconic on campus. There’s also the much later Elizabeth Hall, built in 1964, located right behind Lloyd Hall and protected by it somewhat from the surge.

After several years of wrangling and almost deciding to abandon the campus, USM finally decided to come back to the site, but originally wanted to tear down the three remaining front buildings. The Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History responded by designating them Mississippi Landmarks in 2010. Apparently after further negotiations, USM agreed to renovate Hardy and Lloyd but got permission to tear down the equally old Administration Building. The weird thing to me has always been that the Admin Building is located behind and between Lloyd and Hardy, and after Katrina when I saw it seemed much less damaged than those two front buildings. I have never figured out why USM was so bound and determined to tear down a building that’s actually more protected than the two they are fixing up or why MDAH would allow it.

Anyway, I guess I had assumed this was a done deal, but since Mark Davis’ pictures show that the Administration Building still lives, it may not be. To me, as long as it still lives, USM can still make the right decision and repair the building.  According to Mark, all the other buildings are in some state of renovation, and the newer buildings on the back of campus are operating. Mark is again sharing his pictures to show the progress on the campus. Maybe this can inspire the USM leadership to revisit this and allow Gulf Park to have its Big Three as it’s had since almost the beginning.

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Gulf Park was originally an independent junior college for women, and alumnae hold a reunion each year. You can see the pictures from their most recent reunion here: http://www.gulfparkcollege.com/reunion_2012.htm.

You can also see historic images of Gulf Park College at the USM Digital Collection: http://collections.msdiglib.org/cdm/search/collection/gpcw



Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Hurricane Katrina, Long Beach, Universities/Colleges

14 replies

  1. The abject lunacy of the way Americans think about architecture, towns, and cities: Tear it down and they will come.

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    • Yep, I remember meeting the folks at the Gulf Park campus in 2006 or 07 during my tenure at the MDAH Giulf Coast Field Office…these guys wanted to tear down the main Administration building, based upon the structural instability, clearly evidenced by walls that had collapsed from taking a broadside and a roof that was leaking and collapsing the ceiling tiles. Well…even a rudimentary education in construction materials & methods coud have told them, as did I…that the “unstable” walls were modern wood-frame partions that could hardly have withstood any magnitude of lateral force, but the original plaster set upon masonry structure was quite intact with only the windows facing the sea being blown out from the surge. “What about that bad leaking roof?” So we go up there – they had not been up there – and find the roof was in fine shape except for a gaping 4′-0 x 4′-0 hole (over the damaged tile area) where someone had stolen the rooftop A/C unit…or at least tried to…it was on its end, leaving the mounting frame exposed tomthe elements…hence the “leaking roof”. I asked them what sort of modern building could sustain the brute force of a Katrina broadside? That they only needed to clear out the modern debris, recap the A/C hole and they’d have a superb building…all to a set of glazed-over eyes.

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  2. There is no residence hall at Southern Miss Gulf Park.

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  3. MISSGPTMS, the building which appeared to possibly have been a residence hall is the fleming educational center which is probably a group of classrooms. thanks, m

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  4. Speaking of why universities acquire historic campuses and then want to tear them down, I passed the rubble of Cathrine Hall this morning. Needlessly, the campus is now lopsided.

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  5. How can we stop the destruction of the adminstration building. This is a historical building and the funds are available for its repair. Gulf Park Alumni 1960 H

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  6. I think you need to get in touch directly with USM, preferably as a group of alumni, not just one person. This has all kind of gone one in meetings a couple years ago, and I don’t know where they are in the planning process. But clearly time is of the essence if it is going to be saved.

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  7. Thank You for your article concerning the administration building at GulfPark Jr College. Hopefully the people who are now in charge of the campus will listen and care. The preservation of the administration building will be so important to the complete historical picture of the Gulf Coast. GulfPark H1960

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    • Unfortunately I heard this week that the administration building has been torn down, courtesy of your tax dollars. I hope to post picture this coming week.

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      • So sad. What can I say now that it is gone. A piece of history was destroyed. No one will care now, but one day it will matter to the Gulf Coast. You must cherish your past or you become ordinary, uninteresting. It’s always about money and egos. So very sad.

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Trackbacks

  1. MissPres News Roundup 12-10-2012 « Preservation in Mississippi
  2. MissPres News Roundup 9-23-2013 « Preservation in Mississippi

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