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.
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