New Deal in Mississippi: Faculty Housing

Faculty housing

The last–literally, the last house still standing–of the New Deal Administration-funded projects we will visit on the campus of the University of Mississippi is faculty housing.  Using primarily Works Progress Administration funds (Gerald Walton, The University of Mississippi: Pictorial History, 2008), 22 faculty houses similar to the one pictured were built in 1939 on a newly constructed street named Faculty Row.  (Yes, that is almost as creative as the streets named Dormitory Row and Fraternity Row).   The houses varied slightly in style, with an average of fifteen hundred square feet and three bedrooms (Walton).  Designed by architect Thomas Johnson, Jr. and built by the Walter L. Perry Construction Company, MDAH calls them

vernacular cottage-style houses…located in a neighborhood with curved streets and mature trees typical of a pre-war suburban planned housing development.

In 2007, the LOU-HOME moved 21 of the faculty houses to establish the new affordable housing development called Community Green, off Molly Barr Road (“UM helps old houses become new homes for lower-income families,” March 18, 2008, news.olemiss.edu).  The Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory database lists all the 1939 homes except for number 23 as demolished in 2007.  It also identifies all of the houses constructed in 1960 as demolished in 2007.  The Lafayette tax appraisal records for Community Green list the date of construction on all of the houses as 1955, with the exception of 111 Victory Hill Lane, which is identified with a 1940 construction date.  The MDAH database provides supporting documents (architectural drawings and documented builders) for the 1960-61 dates of construction.

These “affordable” houses for lower-income families were listed with an average price of $98,500.  Number 111 Victory Hill Lane is currently listed as a rental unit available for football weekends.  Perhaps that’s how the lower income family living there makes those payments on an affordable house assessed for over $100,000.  I do realize we are in Oxford here, where “affordable” takes on a whole new meaning.  One $600-700 a night rental fee could make the house payment.  There are three listings for game day rentals in Community Green–a walkable 1.4 miles from the stadium along a new biking/walking trail–priced at $600 and $700.  Still, the decision to relocate the houses for continued use (guessing here that the current skyrocketing growth in enrollment at UM means the land was more valuable than the housing) is preferable to demolishment.  Five of the houses were previously moved before the remaining 21 were donated to LOU-HOME (news.olemiss.edu).  As I drove through the development (a small circle with the houses fairly close together), it appeared well-cared for and one family was outside working in the yard.  Although neatly groomed, the development lacks the ambience of when those houses were located on the campus, and the stark absence of anything green (trees, for example) makes it appear a bit forlorn and plain-looking.

A faculty/staff apartment building, Eastridge,  no longer extant,  containing eight 2-bedroom units was also built in 1939 west of the railroad (now Gertrude Ford Avenue) on the south side of University Avenue.  Eastridge was demolished prior to building Coulter Hall, which now occupies the site.

OleMissFacultyHousing



Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, New Deal, Oxford

1 reply

  1. I am happy to read they were not torn down – especially the faculty house of Willie Morris where he was writer in residence at Ole Miss . In the time he was there he hosted William Styron, James Dickey, Rose Styron, George Plimpton and John Knowles. I was one of his students and he often hosted gatherings of students at his house. I recall that Willie kept his phone in an old Chamber’s stove (Oxford made). Most major writers of that visited him had to open the stove to get to the phone since this was before the cell phone era. The following chronicles this:

    http://www.southerner.net/v1n3_99/fredbrown.html

    Like

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