Mississippi Foundry and Machine Company is located at 300 West South Street, Jackson. I was introduced to the building on Urban Decay. The painted sign “Ironworks” on the end of the building threw me for a loop, so it took a long time of searching and looking at maps to find the real name of the building–but a fun scavenger hunt.
It was founded in 1900 as a manufacturer of agricultural implements, although the original portion of this building was not constructed until 1905. Additions to the building were made in 1914 and 1918, and the foundry wing replaced in 1925 (R. J. Cawthon, 2007, National Register of Historic Places nomination form). Cawthon said the building represents a well-preserved example of a substantial mill-type building of brick and heavy timber that was vitally important to Mississippi’s economic development during the first quarter of the twentieth century.
The reverse L-shaped building with one angled wall was located on a triangular site bounded on the east by the old Illinois Central Railroad track (Chicago-New Orleans) and on the northwest by the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad (Jackson-Natchez). The south wall was built in four segments at different times, but the building was “unified” by the continuous brick cornice (Cawthon).
A number of external alterations were completed over the years, best illustrated in the images retrieved from Google maps. For example, an alley extended between two buildings, and it was left in place during expansion. The “office” door, although altered, as are the windows in that section, was the original 1905 portion of the building, constructed by G. T. Hallas & Company of Jackson (MDAH, HRI database). The newest part of the building, constructed in 1925, is to the far right, and has 2 large steel industrial windows and a vehicular entrance, now bricked in. The large free-standing metal letters atop the parapet spell out the name of the company.
The western end of the building was shaped in a “truncated wedge” (visible from an aerial view) and the 45 degree angle forms a chamfered corner at the narrow end of the wall. “Ironworks” is painted on the brick above the upper windows. Originally, the entrance was a vehicular-wide entrance, which has been altered at some point.
The Foundry Lofts (17 units of varying sizes) were constructed in the large open part of the upper floor, and in some cases, two-story units, although Cawthon indicated due to the construction leaving brick walls, timbers, and other industrial elements open and the use of reversable interior walls, the space was not altered in such a manner as to remove its historical integrity. Thus, it remains as one of the few surviving buildings from the period of economic development 1900-1910.
The foundry continued operations in the location for over 90 years, ceasing business around 1991. Hallas is also credited with constructing the 1904 Central Fire Station in Jackson, as well as two county courthouses, a church, and possibly a hotel.