Designed by eminent Mississippi architect Chris Risher, the Meridian Police Department is a watershed of modernist design worthy of preservation. Reflecting international trends in architecture, the building represents Meridian’s aspirations in the 1970s to become a city of architectural renown. Currently vacant, the Meridian Police Department was named to the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s list of Mississippi’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2013.
The City of Meridian recently submitted a request to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for a permit to demolish this intriguing building. To my knowledge, there is no proposed future use for the site. Many cities across our state have taken buildings that are no longer functioning in their original capacity and given them new life as hotels, art centers, office buildings and apartments. Without investigating possible options for the future use of the Meridian Police Department, a tremendous opportunity could be lost. In response to this request for demolition, the Mississippi Heritage Trust, along with the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and many prominent architects around the state have requested that the building be listed as a Mississippi Landmark, thereby encouraging the City of Meridian to consider all of its many options for restoration and adaptive reuse of the Meridian Police Department.
Built on a monumental scale and opened to widespread architectural acclaim, the Meridian Police Department was constructed with public funds by the forward-thinking political leadership of the day. Before allowing this public resource to be demolished, all avenues for its restoration and future productive use should be explored. Without an effort to save the best buildings from the recent past, what kind of architectural landscape will we bequeath to the next generation?
If you would like to add your voice to the chorus of preservation-minded lovers of modernism clamoring for a second act for the Meridian Police Department, please send your letter of support for the Mississippi Landmark designation to:
Kane Ditto, President
Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees
P.O. Box 571
Jackson, MS 39205