Auld Lang Syne: Friends We Lost in 2014

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!

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Administration Building, Gulf Park College, Long Beach (1921-Jan 2014). An original campus building, designed by New Orleans architect Rathbone DeBuys, it was  demolished for no apparent reason by the University of Southern Mississippi. See Gulf Park Update for the backstory.

Administration Building, Gulf Park College, Long Beach (1921-Jan 2014). Demolished by the University of Southern Mississippi, which used Katrina as an excuse, one of many Coast buildings that survived Katrina in relatively good order but succumbed to its owners’ negligence and/or malice. See Gulf Park Update for the backstory.

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Will V. Westbrook House [(former) Jackson Council of Garden Clubs clubhouse], 1912 W. Capitol Street, Jackson. Built in the 1920s, it was an amost-twin to another Westbrook house, the W.W. Westbrook house at Mynelle Gardens. I noticed it was for sale last year, but was shocked earlier in 2014 to realize it had been demolished.

Will V. Westbrook House [(former) Jackson Council of Garden Clubs clubhouse], 1912 W. Capitol Street, Jackson. Built in the 1920s, it was an amost-twin to another Westbrook house, the W.W. Westbrook house at Mynelle Gardens. I noticed it was for sale last year, but was shocked earlier in 2014 to realize it had been demolished.

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Fielder & Brooks Drug Store/COFO Building, 2505 Fifth Street, Meridian. One of Mississippi's most significant Civil Rights sites, the office of Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman before they were killed near Philadelphia, MS, in 1964. See "Fielder and Brooks Drug Store" and "Meridian's Nationally Significant COFO Buildings Comes Down for backstory."  photograph by Mingo Tingle, MDAH Historic Resources Inventory.

Fielder & Brooks Drug Store/COFO Building (1879-April 2014), 2505 Fifth Street, Meridian. One of Mississippi’s most significant Civil Rights sites, the office of Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman before they were killed near Philadelphia, MS, in 1964. See “Fielder & Brooks Drug Store” and Meridian’s Nationally Significant COFO Buildings Comes Down” for backstory. photograph by Mingo Tingle, MDAH Historic Resources Inventory.

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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?

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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.

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Evans Hall (1964-Dec. 2014), Mississippi State University. This Modernist dormitory built around a courtyard was designed by Thomas S. Jones & Associates and built by the Van Landingham Construction Company. It is only the latest Modernist dormitory to be demolished at MSU, which is replacing its sturdy concrete-frame buildings (like Suttle Hall with cheap wood-frame low-rise apartments with perhaps a 15-year life span. It's what the kids want, right?

Evans Hall (1964-Dec. 2014), Mississippi State University. This Modernist dormitory built around a courtyard was designed by Thomas S. Jones & Associates and built by the Van Landingham Construction Company. It is only the latest Modernist dormitory to be demolished at MSU, which is replacing its sturdy concrete-frame buildings (like Suttle Hall) with cheap wood-frame low-rise apartments that may have a 15 or 20-year life span. It’s what the kids want, right?

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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.

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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.

Riverdale (1850s-December 2014), Lake Washington, Washington County. Photo taken 9-20-2011 by Eric Reisman, MDAH and retrieved from the Historic Resources Database.

Riverdale (1850s-December 2014), Lake Washington, Washington County. Photo taken 9-20-2011 by Eric Reisman, MDAH and retrieved from the Historic Resources Database.

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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

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6 replies

  1. And not to forget the Russell Company Building, which could have been, and should have been, a knockout downtown Greenwood convention center. The malice of one poor excuse for a state representative, Willie Perkins, doomed this wonderful structure. Now an unused lot full of rubble and debris.

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  2. I can and can’t believe that Evans Hall was demolished. It is in line with what MSU has done with other older dorms in the past decade. However, unlike Suttle Hall, which was a nice piece of modernist sculpture that was never a great place to live (a windy winter day on the seventh floor exterior hallway would illustrate that), Evans Hall was a great dorm. Evans was also, despite the descriptions of the building, in good condition; it was not a “dump.” I lived there for a year, only a few years ago, so I would know. The courtyard was a good place to hang out, with barbecues and other activities (usually put on by the students, not the University). Evans was somewhat ignored by the University, which had benefits for the residents, such as not noticing residents’ pet ownership (not allowed in dorms) and my neighbor’s DJ business. I lived in Evans and Hull Halls for nearly my entire time at MSU and loved living in both. I lived in Hathorn Hall for a year and hated it.

    Rice Hall is already on the chopping block and will probably be on the 2015 or 2016 Auld Lang Syne list. The only reason Rice still exists is because it houses 500 students and is hard to replace. Critz, Hull, and some of the other halls will probably be demolished in the coming years judging by the statements coming from MSU administration.

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    • I enjoyed taking the photos of Evans Hall when MDAH was conducting its campus survey in 2010. It was the only dormitory that I thought I would enjoy living in, even as an adult. The courtyard was such a nice space. I hate that we couldn’t save it from the wrecking ball. MSU isn’t the only university intent on demolishing all or almost all of its 1950s-70s dormitories–USM has even bigger plans, I’m told. Hull Hall, of your list above, is a designated Mississippi Landmark, which Evans wasn’t, and I’m told that MSU’s plans don’t include its demolition, as of now at least.

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  3. What beautiful buildings and what a terrible shame that they have been lost to fire or demolition. I wish that there were more laws to protect buildings like these… R.I.P to each and every one of them.
    Not only have the buildings been demolished but all the history that went with them also. What a travesty.

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