If you’ve hung around MissPres for a while now you might have become familiar with Claude Lindsley and come to know his reputation as a bit of a mystery man. Malvaney first posted a picture back in 2010 of Lindsley as a young man in 1922 with somewhat of a Howard Roark stare about him. Before the end of the decade, he was building the tallest buildings in the state, most notable of which are the Threefoot Building in Meridian, and the Standard Life Building in Jackson.
Since that first picture post of Lindsley came about, the MDAH HRI database has debuted. (It’s now hard to imagine what life was like trying to run down such information on historic properties and their architects prior to it’s debut.) Lindsley has 86 buildings documented or attributed to him, not including his work with other firms, and the list is far from complete. Here is what the MDAH HRI database has to say about him:
Lindsley, Claude H. (b.1894 – d.1969)
Architect, Jackson, MS/Houston, TX./Ocean Springs, MS
Born in Jackson, he spent his childhood in Campton, Mississippi (apparently a rural community in either Lincoln or Lawrence Counties). Lindsley began his career employed with X.A. KRAMER in Jackson from 1914-1917. He apparently did not attend college or have any academic training. He worked for the U.S. Shipping Board from 1918-1919, and became a partner with Kramer as KRAMER & LINDSLEY from 1920-1923. He established his own practice in 1923. Lindsley submitted a proposal for the Natchez City Hall in 1925, but the project was given to Jackson architect H.N. AUSTIN. He was listed as a member of the Louisiana chapter of the AIA in the early 1920s, before the creation of the MS chapter–his office in this 1924 listing was located at 50 Kress Building. E.L. MALVANEY was his Head Draftsman, 1923-1926, and ROBERT COOK JONES worked as a draftsman during the summers, 1924/1925, and again in 1928. ROBERT B. MCKNIGHT also worked as a draftsman in his office in the late 1920s. By the 1927/28 Directory, Lindsley had offices in the Lamar Life Building, and a residence (with wife and 2 children) at the corner of S. Prentiss and N. Robinson. In 1931, his office was at the 18th Floor, Tower Building, Jackson. In that same year (1931), he was a member of the Executive Committee for the MS Chapter, AIA. Lindsley participated in a traveling exhibit by the state board of development in 1930, with his entry titled “Remodeling as a Factor in the Making of Better Homes.” R.W. NAEF worked in his office as Specification Writer and General Office Manager, 1928-1931. Although Lindsley still maintained an office in Jackson in the 1935 City Directory, his residence was noted as “Washington DC,” apparently, working for the next two years as a consulting architect for the OFFICE OF THE SUPERVISING ARCHITECT. He moved around to Houston, TX, in 1937 and lived there until 1946, associated with WYATT C. HEDRICK in the firm HEDRICK & LINDSLEY. He returned to his own independent practice in 1947, continuing in Houston, but he maintained connections on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, with several projects through the 1950s. DONALD SIMMONS works as an associate for him on gulf coast projects. By 1958, he was listed in the Ocean Springs City Directory on Holcombe Blvd., but apparently he built a house on Ridge Road in Gulf Hills and retired there soon thereafter. He was still using his Houston, TX address on his stamp as late as 1962. He was married and had two daughters. He died in Ocean Springs (Gulf Hills) in 1969, but is buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Jackson. See American Architects Directory, 1962. also Obituary, Brookhaven Daily Leader, July 10, 1969, p. 9.
The very last building on the list is a building featured here before, and relates to today’s picture. The 1968 First National Bank in Ocean Springs is the last building Lindsley was known to design.
Here Lindsley appears in a May 23, 1968 Daily Herald newspaper photograph. It’s not a very clear image, but the same man seen in the 1922 photograph still can be made out in the face of this older man. Another building he designed that may have been the last building he entered is the former O’Keefe Funeral Chapel. Built in 1961 this building was executed by Fletcher Construction Company of Pascagoula. A September 11, 1961 Daily Herald article boasted that it was the first purpose-built Funeral Chapel in Jackson County. His funeral would be held in the building July 12, 1969.
About a year ago, I pulled up Lindsley’s 1942 draft registration card to see a physical description of the man. He was listed as having brown hair, blue eyes, with a ruddy complexion. Standing five foot seven 1/2, he weighed 235 lbs. In writing this post, I thought that was somewhat heavier than he appears in both photographs, so I looked up his 1917 draft registration card. Brown hair, grey eyes (hmmm), with medium height and medium completion. Seemed pretty much a younger version of the man detailed in the 1942 draft, but how much younger? I was surprised to see his birth year listed as 1891, not 1894 as listed in the 1942 draft registration. Surely census records could clear this up, but they only add to the confusion. In 1940 he was born in 1895, in 1930 he was born in 1890, in 1920 he was born in 1893. I haven’t been able to find him in a census prior to 1920.
It seems the more we learn about ol’ Claude, he continues to be a man of mystery.