MissPres News Roundup 3-2-2015

Lots of news in the last two weeks, so let’s go.


Cooley Building (J.M. Stone Cotton Mill). Photo taken on March 17, 2010 by Jennifer Baughn, downloaded from MDAH Historic Resources Database

Cooley Building (J.M. Stone Cotton Mill). Photo taken on March 17, 2010 by Jennifer Baughn, downloaded from MDAH Historic Resources Database

In Starkville, the0$55 million conversion of the Cooley Building, the old John M. Stone textile mill, into a convention, hotel, and office center is moving along and is expected to be completed in early May, according to the Commercial Dispatch. We’ve been watching this story for a long time here on MissPres, but this is the first interior picture I’ve seen of the work-in-progress.

The centerpiece of the project is the 93,000-square-foot Cooley Building, long referred to — although incorrectly — as The Cotton Mill.
Built in 1902 and expanded in the 1920s and 1940s, the building was constructed as a textile factory called The John M. Stone Cotton Mill. The cotton was not milled at the site, however. The factory was where the cotton was turned into fabric until 1962, when the business closed.

Mississippi State purchased the building in 1965, and renamed it after the school’s former utilities superintendent, E.E. Cooley. The building was used as the university’s physical plant until 2012.

The Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The building’s historic status has presented its own challenges, but also opportunities, Castleberry says. “The National Park Service has been very involved in the process,” he says. “Their goal is to maintain the historical integrity of the building. They want it to look as it looked when it was built when it comes to the major components. That’s presented some challenges, but at the same time, I think keeping some of those original ideas really make the building interesting.”

Read more . . .


The Clarion-Ledger ran a nice long article by Sherry Lucas about MHT’s Mad Mod Eastover tour, which happened on Friday.

Modernist buildings constitue “the new historic,” and the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s MS MOD Project focuses on the state’s modernist legacy. Thursday and Friday events in Jackson will boost understanding of what’s valuable and worthy of preservation, said Lolly Barnes, MHT director. Around age 50 to 60, many of the buildings are now eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

“By getting a chance to explore these modernist residences here in Jackson, I think people will see things with new eyes,” Barnes said. “These are homes that are well-loved and maintained,” which is not the case with all modernist buildings in the state. “We’re fighting a battle right now in Meridian to save the Meridian Police Department, which is a phenomenal modernist building built by Mississippi’s own Chris Risher.


Meadowbrook McRae's -- on completion in 1964. Flint Brothers Construction Co., photo by Jimmy Flint via Facebook

Meadowbrook McRae’s — on completion. Flint Brothers Construction Co., photo by Jimmy Flint via Facebook

Speaking of Modernism, two stories about renovations of Modernist buildings caught my eye. The first one was in the Clarion-Ledger, “Old McRae’s gets new life as telehealth, data center,” about Jackson’s old Meadowbrook McRae’s, which closed in 2005 and is being given a new life as a data center, complete with a reconstructed folded-plate awning. The second story was on WLOX, which reported on the restoration of the Bayou View Service Station, built in 1957, which is under new ownership and all spruced up to be a full-service station for its community again. Three cheers for Mississippians who see the potential of their Modernist structures and look beyond the alterations and years of neglect and revive their buildings to their original mid-century splendor!


The Jackson County Historical and Genealogical Society is hosting a gala on Friday, April 17, to raise money for the restoration of the LaPointe-Krebs House (“Old Spanish Fort”) in Pascagoula. According to this WLOX story, the society, along with the La Pointe-Krebs Foundation, is trying to raise $800,000 to complete a project to repair damage from Katrina flooding and subsequent deterioration. A recent $200,000 Community Heritage Preservation Grant from MDAH is going toward that total. Tickets for the “Fete La Pointe 2015” will go on sale March 20, and you can stay tuned on the JCHGS website.


Finally, a sad note. Mary Helen Schaeffer, who overcame great obstacles to repair and restore her c.1910 Arts and Crafts house on Pass Christian’s Scenic Drive after Katrina’s washed through, died last week. Mary Helen’s can-do spirit was indominable, and she infected everyone with her enthusiasm and drive. This Steel Magnolia served on the board of the Mississippi Heritage Trust and received any and all visitors who came to ogle her house, the last one left standing on its stretch of Scenic Drive. Her passing is a reminder that historic preservation is about people as much as it is about buildings. Mary Helen’s legacy is in the house and community she loved enough to fight to save, and in the people whose lives she touched while doing so. Mary Helen was featured on MHT’s Save My Place website last year and in the 2009 documentary Building Blocks as seen below in this YouTube clip.

Building Blocks was a production of Mississippi Department of Archives and History, in association with Mississippi Public Broadcasting and funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service through the Preserve America Program.

Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Gulf Coast, Historic Preservation, Hurricane Katrina, Jackson, Modernism, News Roundups, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Recent Past, Renovation Projects, Starkville


1 reply

  1. Reblogged this on Building Purpose and commented:
    Some incredible projects mentioned in this article. Community development must be emphasized in conjunction with economic development. Historic preservation strategies are critical to both.


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