It’s time to start our traditional MissPres end-of-year lists for 2014 and as usual, we begin with a sad list of lost historic buildings. Some of these have gotten attention through the year, some haven’t, but I think it’s important to see them again in a long row to remind ourselves why we are preservationists. Our historic places continue to disappear, and as each year begins, we never know which buildings will appear on next year’s list, but we can fight for those that we know are endangered.
Note to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees: you have it within your power to be sure that the Meridian Police Station does not show up on our 2015 list, so please do the right thing on January 16 and designate it as a Mississippi Landmark! Other potential losses in the coming year are large chunks of Jackson’s Farish Street (under threat from the Jackson Redevelopment Authority), Arlington in Natchez (negligence), Mt. Holly at Lake Washington (negligence), and who knows how much else in Meridian (apathy)? We have much work to do, preservationists, so let’s get moving!
The Biggs, Weir, Neal & Chastain architectural office on Meadowbrook Road in Jackson had been through some changes since its original designers moved out in the late 1970s, most notably the brick veneer over the original concrete block, but you could still see some of its features peaking through, including the clerestory windows at the eaves that allowed natural light without glare. I live nearby this office, which had been more recently a knife sharpening business, and was shocked to see tape around it one day, and it was gone the next. But thankfully, it’s being replaced by a much-needed Walgreens, right across from a neighborhood CVS, which had itself knocked down part of the Biggs-designed Meadowbrook Mart around 2006. What do big-box drug stores have against Tom Biggs, who designed some of Jackson’s most architecturally significant post-World War II churches, including St. Richards, Covenant Presbyterian, St. Philip’s Episcopal, and Northminster Baptist?
The two Delmas houses on Pascagoula’s Front Street both were finally demolished in October 2014 after years of trying to find an owner to move them off their waterfront lots. See Free to a Good Home for backstory.
If you’ve driven up Highway 61 north of Rolling Fork, you’ve no doubt seen one of Mississippi’s most famous houses built on an Indian mound, Mt. Helena. And if you’ve looked past the house, you’ve probably noticed the frame church on the property, Pleasant Green A.M.E. Church. Probably built in the early 1900s, it finally succumbed to the elements about a month ago, according to a post on photographer Marty Kittrell’s Facebook page, which has a moving tribute to what African American rural churches represented and how their disappearance is changing the Mississippi landscape.
And finally, I received word from a Delta friend a couple of weeks ago that “Riverdale,” an antebellum river house that had been moved from Issaquena County to Lake Washington in 2002, suffered a devastating fire and has been lost. This is an especially terrible loss to the Lake Washington community, which continues to deal with the thorny problem of how to save Mt. Holly from its malicious Texas owner.
What friends have we lost in previous years?
Categories: African American History, Antebellum, Churches, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Jackson, Long Beach, Lost Mississippi, Meridian, Pascagoula, Rolling Fork, Starkville, Urban/Rural Issues