How about a little news roundup to get us back into the news in this New Year?
There’s hopeful news out of Pascagoula, where the stunning Modern/Googie-style high-rise building built as the Pascagoula-Moss Point and later occupied by Hancock Bank has new owners and a new future. According to WLOX’s “Realtor says renovation of Pascagoula building will boost downtown development,”
“This was, you might say, the flagship in downtown Pascagoula because it’s four story elevation and the design was very innovative,” said [realtor] Cumbest. “The award winning Perry Langston was the award winning architect who designed it. A lot of people around the community have good memories from coming into the bank lobby and looking around.”
. . .
Cumbest handled the sale on behalf of the bank to Pascagoula City Centre LLC., which he says plans to renovate the four story structure.
“It’s wonderful. I love history. I’m a preservationist,” Cumbest said. “It does me good to see people who will come in and who will renovate and do work on the building when the simple alternative is to demolish buildings. Over the years, I think of on the Gulf Coast and the beautiful buildings that we’ve lost as much through hurricanes as people doing the demolition and building something new.”
I’m excited to see the reference to Perry Langston, who was the architect for Bank Building & Equipment Corporation, which built thousands of banks around the country in the booming post-World War II period. I had never known about Langston until seeing a BBEC plaque on Yazoo City’s Delta National Bank and writing a post about it, “Yazoo City’s Delta National Bank and Its Place in American Architectural History.” Turns out, Perry Langston is one of the stars of a whole website dedicated to the Bank Building & Equipment Corp. called Defining Downtown at Mid-Century. Even better, the Pascagoula bank is a featured building. Defining Downtown contributor Kirk Huffaker says this about the building and also provides an original rendering that would look great on my wall:
Pascagoula – Moss Point Bank (Hancock Bank)
3207 Magnolia St.
Date of Construction: 1961
Architect: Bank Building & Equipment Corp. of America
Only a few details separated the original concept of the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank from the final product. As conceived, a four-story building would be anchored by a fire red brick corner tower, displaying a colorful blade sign for the bank. Each of the two main street facades were to be largely covered with glass and sets of window louvers to block the southern sun. On one of the main facades, a decorative pillow-top like pattern was portrayed atop the building with dots along the façade. The first floor was shown to be completely transparent with all glass.
The only changes to the original plan may have been the omission of the decorative corner-mounted blade sign. Alterations are also likely to have been made to the building’s exterior since its construction including painting it a cream color and removing the window louvers, which has been common due to maintenance issues. To exacerbate issues here, the building was damaged by the massive inland storm surge associated with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. For several years after that, it was closed for renovations but was likely not substantially changed further on the exterior.
MDAH’s popular History Is Lunch series in downtown Jackson has a definite preservation bent this January, according to this schedule announcement that came out last week:
MDAH’s History Is Lunch Series will resume on Wednesday, January 14, at noon in the William F. Winter Building with author and historian Walter Howell. He will discuss his book Town and Gown: The Saga of Clinton and Mississippi College. Book sales and signing to follow.
Also, parking is at premium due to construction of the 2 Mississippi Museums, but space is available in the parking lot behind the Old Capitol Museum. There may also be spots available on Amite and North Streets.
Upcoming January programs:
January 21—Mary Carol Miller and Allan Hammons will discuss their series Greenwood: Mississippi Memories. Sales and signing to follow. WFW
January 28—Jennifer Baughn and Brenda Davis will present “Revising History: The State Capitol Restoration.” WFW
Finally, I noticed a couple of stories from outside the state that I thought would be of interest. First, the Boynton House in Selma, Alabama, an important hub of civil rights activity that brought Dr. Martin Luther King to Selma was featured in the film Selma (which I hope to see in the next week and have heard good reviews), but it is “crumbling” according to a story in the Atlanta Black Star. The photo in“Historic House of the Civil Rights Movement in Selma is Rotting” shows a serious roof issue that has no doubt led to serious water damage inside, and it’s not clear why the house didn’t benefit from the filming in the same way that our Medgar Evers House got a little patching for Ghosts of Mississippi in 1996 and more recently Rodney’s Mt. Zion Baptist Church for Get On Up. Even just a minor cleanup and patch can give a building some extra life.
And on a happier note, a time capsule dating to 1796 was removed from the Massachusetts State House recently. Read all about what was in it!