Modernist Storefronts of Pascagoula

Pascagoula, better known for its colonial-period Old Spanish Fort (aka  De le Pointe-Krebs House), actually has some really interesting mid-20th-century buildings for the architectural explorer to examine. The commercial strip on Delmas Avenue in particular, although partially covered as a downtown “mall” as part of an urban renewal scheme in the 1970s, still has a few nicely done Modernist storefronts. (Actually, the downtown malling and later unmalling phenomenon might make a good post or two in the future.)

Most dramatically, the old Brumfields has a great recessed storefront and huge show window, I assume from the 1950s or possibly late 1940s. You might remember this page of possible show window configurations from one of my favorite books to look through for a 1940s vibe, Modern Store Design by Gene Borke and Edgar Kober. Published in 1946, the book showed all the most up-to-date ways to sell things to people, and huge showroom windows to attracts pedestrians were top on the list.

Check out the configuration second up from the bottom left–it’s like it own little store space:

That’s Brumfield’s configuration:

This is the left entrance to the showcase area, with showcases wrapping around to the left and the “showcase island” barely visible to the right. The entrance to the store is there in the background. Notice the nice clean facets of the huge window panes.

At both the entrances to the showcase area, Brumfields is spelled out in the terrazzo floor.

Here we are in the middle of the showcase area, looking past the “showcase island” to the right and center to the other sidewalk entrance.

Here’s a view of one of the two large wrapping showcases. It’s almost as big as my house!

Still at the center of the showcase area, looking out toward the right entrance, with wrapping showcase to left and island to the right. The plywood covering some of the broken windows on the sidewalk side have made this space dark and not very inviting, but easily remedied if somebody wanted to fix it up and put this back into use. Notice also the separate window at the far end, usually used for smaller items such as jewelry, shoes, etc.

And looking back along the whole interior showcase area, with the island just peeking out from the left.

Here’s how the showcases look from the sidewalk. You can see how the tilework on the front of the building–probably put on in the 1970s since it matches other tilework on the street–and of course the plywood over the broken window, darkens what was supposed to be a bright and inviting space meant to sell things.

It wouldn’t take much to take this place back to its full glory, although there isn’t much retail going on in downtown Pascagoula nowadays.

Here’s a few other mid-century Modern storefronts from Delmas Avenue’s glory days during and after World War II.

I think this one is missing a flat awning that cantilevered out from that aluminum horizontal piece. And do I see the ghost of “JC Penney Co.” in the upper wall?

Is that a Lally Column I see, Thomas Rosell?? Also check out the sweet elongated Roman brick that help give the building a horizontal feel.

Original interior light fixtures. The entrance a model of Minimalism where the shapes of the windows themselves become the decorative scheme.

Looks like Southern Californ-I-A

Another nice little special window for special items

Big ol’ open spaces

A sweet small storefront, proving that even small shop owners could afford sophisticated storefronts back in the day. I’m not sure, but I suspect this green tile is original to this storefront, and it’s more welcoming than that later tile on Brumfields. And that little diagonal line of the door handle? Priceless.



Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Historic Preservation, Modernism, Pascagoula, Recent Past

10 replies

  1. I would like to see more from this era preserved. A recent trip to downtown Silver Spring, Maryland revealed many storefronts from this vintage. Sadly, many of them have been renovated away recently in favor of facades more reminiscent of Pottery Barn. As you have so eloquently noted before, the things we grew up with are most easily discarded.

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  2. The mindset of the general public is “new is better.” Educating the masses hasn’t even begun. Appreciation for the charm of storefronts such as seen in this post is as void as these stores are vacant. You are correct, it wouldn’t take much to have these stores up and running again. So sad………..

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  3. That J.C.Penney building is great. Ive gone by it a million times but never really stopped to think about it until looking at your photographs. Yes I would say those are Lally Columns. The flat awning piece looks like a Natcor Awning Bar Hood. Natcor had 3 distributors in Mississippi but the closet distributor to Pascagoula was in Mobile.

    https://misspreservation.com/natcor-extruded-metal-awning-bar-hood/

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    • What great images! So not much shade at all, like from a real awning? I guess that explains why there aren’t any connection marks in the upper wall, something I interpreted as meaning a cantilevered awning. Thanks for the pics!

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      • Yes I am not really sure how the fabric part of the awning worked. If it was just a small fabric “skirt” or if it was more of an actual fabric awning with fold out tension arms. The tension arm awning would not have required upper wall supports, but would have been more susceptible to breaking, I suppose. That may be the reason why the awning is no longer there.

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  4. I shopped in those stores for many years, J.C. Penney, Brumfields, Gryders’ Shoes. Bush Office Supplies, Parker Jewelry and on and on. Lovely street and mostly kept the same. Hope powers that be will get new owners who will benefit from the foresight of people such as the Brumfields and Parkers. My wedding rings came from Parkers and he and my husband bowled on same team, which he allowed us large discount on our rings. Good memories-thanks for this post.

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  5. Sadly, Brumfields and another building beside it was torn down earlier last year. Back in the early 1900s Delmas Avenue was filled with two-story and even three-story Victorian era buildings but sadly the Great Fire of Pascagoula in 1921 destroyed all of the remnants of the Victorian era. If you were to visit Pascagoula a hundred years ago you would also find that Pascagoula had it’s own streetcar line that ran on Pascagoula Street from the beach to Moss Point. I believe I was just born into the wrong times.

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  6. The J.C. Penny building is now, sadly, being renovated into office space – it will look like anything USA — just a plain blah office building…but at least it is being saved.

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Trackbacks

  1. MissPres News Roundup 12-3-2012 « Preservation in Mississippi
  2. MissPres News Roundup 1-28-2013 « Preservation in Mississippi

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