Mississippi Architect, Feb. 1965: River Hills Country Club

After I alleged in last week’s post that it was the last article from the original run of Mississippi Architect, John Caldwell commented that he couldn’t find the link to the February 1965 issue, and sure enough, I realized I had skipped February and went straight on to March 1965. So here’s the for-real, shore-enough last article from the original run of Mississippi Architect.

February’s magazine had no editorial, instead focusing its text on the River Hill Country Club in Jackson. I had been under the impression, until seeing the two aerial images attached below, that this 1963 structure still survived in the Frenchi-fied current club building, but in fact, you can see in the Bing image that the foundation for the new building is in place behind the Modernist building, and then in th0 later Google aerial, notice the relationship of the pool to the new building. A scroll back through the wonderful new Google Street View timeline shows that the old building was still in place in 2007, but it was gone by 2009. Au revoir, old River Hills.

River Hills Club

COUNTRY CLUB

RIVER HILLS CLUB
Jackson

T.N. TOUCHSTONE JR. & ASSOCIATES
Architect
Jackson

FRAN BUILDERS
Contractor
Jackson

This club has its genesis in a small group meeting held on a cold, sleety night in January of 1963. It was first conceived as a small swimming and tennis organization, but during the planning stages it created so much interest in the community that the project developed into a full-sized country club with the exception of providing golf facilities.

Unlike the problems that usually present themselves to an architect during the development of plans, the club had one unusual problem to contend with–the fact that as the membership increased to each separate plateau level, it was necessary to keep the plans as fluid and flexible as possible because all areas would have to increase proportionally.

In the beginning, only a one-story clubhouse was planned, but with the rapid increase of membership to 550, the plans were enlarged to a two-story club building, with a built-in expansion for a third floor.

A seven-acre site was obtained on Ridgewood Road adjacent to the proposed extension of Lakeland Drive–Mississippi Highway 25–leading to the Allen C. Thompson Air Terminal. Because of various soil conditions, and existing grade elevations, the clubhouse, swimming pool and parking areas were placed near the front of the property at an elevation near street leel, and the tennis courts to the rear on a lower level.

There are a total of eighteen tennis courts in three six-court bays. Phones and drinking fountains are provided in the alleyways between each bay of courts. A tennis equipment room and maintenance shop is located in the northwest corner of the courts for quick and easy access for workmen.

File8365a

Swimming facilities include an Olympic-sized pool suitable for AAU meets with a 25 meter course in the north-south leg and a 25 yard course in the east-west leg. One-meter and three-meter diving boards are located at the south end for diving competition. A shallow training area is provided at the northwest end of the main pool with a separate baby pool at the north edge of the pool deck. The cabana contains dessing and backet facilities facing the pool with storage below entering from the tennis court side.

File8367aAs viewed from the entrance gates, the exterior of brick and concrete of the clubhouse is broken only by a concrete canopy protecting an entrance of glass and aluminum. The lobby, an extension of an informal lounge and snack bar, is bounded on the left with the business offices and a passage to the men’s lockers and on the right by an open stair constructed of precast concrete treads and steel balusters supporting walnut handrails leading to a second floor dining room. The lounge is floored with brick pavers and has walls of exposed brick on the west and drywall on the north. The south and east walls of glass overlook the pool and courts. A passageway through the ladies’ powder room from the lounge provides access to the ladies’ locker area containing 100 lockers, toilets, showers and hair dryers. The men’s locker area contains 150 lockers, showers, toilets and a massage table. A sauna-type steam bath separates the locker areas and is available to both sexes by scheduled use. Both locker areas exit to the terrace area overlooking the tennis courts. A tennis pro shop is accessible from this terrace as is the lounge. A pass window at the snack bar is provided for those swimming or playing tennis.

The second floor dining is reached by stair from the entrance lobby and has an approximate capacity for two hundred and fifty diners. A system of folding wood partitions allows for the division of the south bay into one, two or three private dining areas. The dining room is floored with wood parquet, with the west wall of exposed brick and the north wall of drywall. The east and south walls are of glass with openings onto a balcony overlooking the pool and courts. The ceiling is of suspended acoustical tile and raised areas of concrete sprayed with acoustic plaster.

A stair from the north parking area leads to the balcony to allow deliveries to the kitchen. The balcony is used for relaxation while viewing the tennis and swimming activities. Parking has been provided for 180 cars with possible future expansion to the highway on the south.

The club facilities have been constructed to provide menership for a maximum of 800 families, and represents an investment in excess of $500,000.00 for its more than 550 stockholders.

The club has already been recognized as one of the finest of its kind and recently staged an international tennis exhibition. It is expected that major swimming and tennis events will be held at the club in the future.

River Hills c.2008River Hills c2008

River Hills in 2015:

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This article is reprinted from the March 1965 issue of the Mississippi Architect, with permission from the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. For other articles in this ongoing series, including the pdf version of each full issue, click on the MSArcht tab at the top of this page.



Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson

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2 replies

  1. Really enjoyed this! It is nice to see the beginning of what it is now. Really neat photo of staircase with plants under it.

    Like

  2. What great memories this article brought back to me. I remember going to countless Friday night dances (with the “Innovations” playing) in the big open lobby right next to that stairway pictured. Also those wunnerful cheeseburgers from the snack bar after pool/tennis on the weekends, with the lobby being kept as cold as a meat locker! So sorry to hear that this building is no longer here…but how I remember the good times there!

    Like

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