Monroe County’s Chancery Building, built 1885-87 as a post office and federal building (Mississippi Department of Archives & History/Historic Resources Inventory database), did not make it to the 101 Places in Mississippi to See Before you Die list. It was only #17 in the Columbus/Golden Triangle Regional Poll, with a mere 2.84% of the vote (n=12). In the spirit of making sure that all the excellent nominations get their day in the sun, I’m tossing in another favorite that didn’t make the list, but has a lot going for it anyway. The 2 1/2 story Romanesque building was remodeled circa 1931. MDAH/HRI also added:
…the Romanesque Revival structure is of a style of architecture rarely adopted for Mississippi buildings. As such, this building links late-nineteenth century Mississippi architecture with the vanguard of American academic architecture of the period.
See, I told you it had a lot going for it! Translation of the above in Suzassippi vernacular: we were on the cutting edge with other trendsetters and trailblazers and innovators and groundbreakers..but only once. Architect was Mifflin E. Bell, Supervising Architect of the Treasury. Oxford’s old post office and federal building, completed a year prior to Aberdeen’s, shares some characteristics, such as the dormer and arches, and is also Romanesque Revival.
Harrison L. Stamm (1997, National Register nomination form) added that the Victorian Romanesque building was embellished with Gothic and Classical details. I am going to speculate that the Gothic details are those little designs on the roof edges.
Stamm described the building’s design and construction:
constructed of red pressed brick and gray stone with natural terra cotta decoration…facade divided and sub-divided by a variety of decorative string courses executed in brick and stone and punctuated by hood molds that follow the contours of radiating voussoirs above the round-arched windows and doors.
Inlaid terra cotta tiles decorate the triangular peak of the gable on the front facade; molded bricks decorate the peaks on the west elevation (Stamm).
Aberdeen has a pleasing downtown historic district also, so as you are meandering down Commerce street on the way to the Chancery, you can take in all of the circa 1880-1920 buildings on the main street. It’s another hidden gem in Mississippi architecture. Guaranteed to make you smile, and on top of that, the chance to see some “cutting edge” architecture harking from 1888. On the 101 list or not, that’s a reason to drive to Aberdeen!