Mid-Century Medical: Jackson’s University Plaza

A while back, Thomas Rosell introduced us to University Plaza, a group of Modernist medical clinics in Jackson just south of Memorial Stadium. Specifically, Thomas’ post focused on the clinic of Drs. Johnson and Wiener, designed by J.T. Liddle and published in a Charlotte-based magazine called Architecture South in 1956.

Johnson Wiener office Jackson Hinds Co. Emmet King c1956 Architectural South Sept. 1956

Johnson Wiener office Jackson Hinds Co. Emmet King c1956 Architectural South Sept. 1956

At that time, I promised to post pictures of the rest of this interesting complex that I had taken a couple of years ago and then forgotten (the great thing about being over 40 is that you have an excuse for being forgetful). In the meantime, I came across an article about the early development of University Plaza, which is still a going concern, although it has lost three buildings on the southeast side and not all the buildings are still operating as clinics.

First off, here’s a current photo of the Johnson & Wiener office, and as you can see, the entrance has been altered, with the porch enclosed and, it appears, the cool metal screen panel reused and possibly turned on its side:

University Plaza16

This entrance led into what was labeled on the plans “White Waiting Room.” There was some discussion in the comments to Thomas’ post about the area labeled on the plans as “Colored Waiting Room.” This would have had a separate entrance on the far right side, where there is still a sidewalk, but when I took these pictures, I didn’t realize that’s what I was looking at, so didn’t get a detail.

Largest clinic in state set for Northside

Plans were revealed this week for the construction in North Jackson of the largest clinic in the state.

The clinic, which will be composed of 16 separate buildings will be located on Woodrow Wilson Drive near the medical center.

Preliminary work has already begun on the clinic center which will house seven physicians and ten dentists.

The group has also arranged to have Northsider E.F. Nolen construct a pharmacy on the plaza.

Architect John Ware has started grading work on the location which will be known as 500 University Plaza. The buildings will be built along each side of the 576 foot long street. The street will be 100 feet wide and there will be parking space for 514 automobiles.

The site for the clinic was purchased Friday from George Godwin, Sr., and handled by F.E. Foster of Wortman and Mann.

Godwin said that another building was planned for the area, just west of the new center.

Physicians to construct buildings are Dr. Robert W. Crowell, Dr. Forrest G. Brantley, Dr. William J. Featherstone, Dr. James W. Packer, Dr. Elmer J. Harris, Dr. A. Gayden Ward and Dr. Eva Lynn Malone.

Dentists who will build in the clinic center are Dr. Barney B. Kennedy, Dr. Julius Brown, Dr. F.E. Collette, Dr. Dewitt T. Lewis, Dr. Bernard A. Cohen, Dr. M. Monroe Stewart, Dr. Plummer H. Wynn, Dr. Frank D. Sanders, Dr. Ludwell C. Pierce and Dr. Estes M. Blackburn.

Northside Reporter, April 7, 1955, p.1

From this article in the Northside Reporter, it appears that John Ware, who with his brother Joe, later joined with N.W. Overstreet as Overstreet, Ware & Ware, may have done the site planning and then each doctor or partnership hired their own architects. MDAH’s Historic Resources database lists only two clinics, both of which were designed by Biggs, Weir & Chandler: the Purvis Clinic (514d, non-extant, built 1954) and the Meloan Clinic (500k, built 1957). The Purvis Clinic was along the eastern line of buildings, which all have addresses at 514 Woodrow Wilson, while the two lines of clinics on the western side have addresses at 500 Woodrow Wilson. It appears that 514 was developed earlier than John Ware’s 500 Woodrow Wilson campus, if that 1954 date for Purvis Clinic is accurate. I’m eager to learn more about each of these buildings, which together comprise one of the most unusual groupings of little Modernist buildings in the state and could teach us much about the practice of medicine after World War II.

Categories: Architectural Research, Hospitals/Medical, Jackson, Modernism


6 replies

  1. I first noticed the architect Jay T. Liddle when i began in 2012 a renovation/expansion of the City Hall in Raymond. It was designed in Dec. 1955 by Mr. Liddle as a combination town hall & fire station.


  2. Very nice. Perhaps these type of developments are a type of semi-planned/planned development that could provide a context for documentation work? Part of the tour yesterday at the Trust conference in Savannah included a Eichler-inspired planned development, Medical Arts, from a similar era.


  3. The CDF office from the post a few days ago is sited among a similar group of clinics along with an office building or two on Medical Plaza in south Jackson, https://misspreservation.com/2014/11/07/mississippi-architect-dec-1964-architects-office/

    I think that the earliest clinic buildings are from the same era as those above, though the architect’s office is ten years later.

    Also, the interesting thing about those buildings in this post, to me, is their proximity to the brand new University Hospital and to the Hinds County Health Dept. which used to be pretty much next door to this group on Woodrow Wilson as well as to the state Board of Health building.


    • Is the date of construction for the CDF office known? I know the Lyle Cashion building in University Plaza was built seven years prior it’s appearance in Mississippi Architect. Could the CDF studio have been built in the 1950’s also?


  4. The complex looks great. It could use a little dusting off, but hopefully nobody would make major changes. Thanks for sharing your photos E.L. Can’t wait to swing by the plaza next time I’m in Jackson.


  5. In revisiting this post I noticed that even the parking islands / neutral ground appear to be Modern in design.


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