Duncan after the 1929 tornado: Part 2

Last week introduced part 1 of a 3-part series on Duncan, Mississippi after the 1929 tornado destroyed many of the village’s homes and businesses.  This week will highlight some of the buildings that were constructed following the tornado.   (Note: the MDAH HRI indicates several pre-1929 houses survived, but this series does not focus on residences–at least not yet.)

In the year following the February 25, 1929 tornado, Duncan added 71 telephone installations, indicative of the rebuilding efforts (“Greenville third city according to number of phones,” Biloxi Daily Herald, January 25, 1930, p. 1).  Although Duncan High School was not in the path of the storm and was spared in 1929 (“Duncan cyclone memory brought back by storm,” Democrat-Times, December 10, 1936, p. 1), two new construction efforts were directed at schools: Duncan Central School for black students, a four-teacher type plan funded partially by the Rosenwald fund, constructed in 1930 and no longer extant (MDAH HRI; Fisk University Rosenwald Fund database), and the new Administration building for Duncan School for white students (MDAH HRI).

former schoolBased on the location for the 1930 Hull and Malvaney administration building shown on the Mississippi Department of Archives and History properties database map, this has solved my longstanding question of “what was this building originally?”  While obvious that the front part of the building has been either altered or added in recent years, from Highway 61 where the rear of the building is visible, it had the appearance of a school.

former school 2A gymnasium was erected in 1933 (not extant) and a vocational building in 1939 (not extant).

Golden Comet Rotabar Gin

Image retrieved from Google Maps, February 8, 2015.

Also attributed as c. 1930 by MDAH is the Golden Comet System Planters Gin of Duncan, although that name may have been adopted later.  The “Golden Comet Rotabar Gin” was marketed by Continental Gin Company, using A. L. Vandergriff’s 1962 redesigned “rotabar” gin.

Other buildings constructed during that period include a c. 1930 Craftsman-style service station on East Main Street, a c. 1940 commercial building on East Park, South, and a c. 1940 service station on West Park, North, all of which remain extant.  The Duncan Baptist Church constructed a new building in 1956, around the curve from the Malvaney school building, to replace their 1916 building, and at some point, a modern post office building was constructed on Main Street.  As pointed out by Thomas Rosell last week, there is also a modern-looking convenience store/laundromat on Main Street.  No information is in the database on either of those buildings.

Next week, we’ll close out the series with a look at a unique cultural icon for the Delta, and its connection to Duncan.



Categories: Delta, Historic Preservation


6 replies

  1. Neat cornerstone from an earlier Duncan Baptist Church. J. E. Greene was a Baptist Church designing machine in the nineteen teens. If it is the same man i’d be curious about the spelling of the last name.



  2. I was born on the outskirts of this small town. I am in search of relatives, Henry Browns’ family.
    He left as a young man and moved to Chicago. D.O.B. 1915/1917.


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