Michael Fazio Discusses Architect N.W. Overstreet

From the MDAH website:

At noon on Wednesday, May 11, as part of the department’s History Is Lunch series, Michael Fazio will present “N.W. Overstreet and his Mark on Mississippi Architecture.”

Noah Webster Overstreet was the first registered architect in Mississippi, designing buildings across the state and in Louisiana and Tennessee throughout his long career. Born in Eastabuchie, Mississippi, in 1888, Overstreet graduated from what is now Mississippi State University in 1908 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He earned his B.S. in architectural engineering in 1910 from the University of Illinois at Urbana. He worked as an architectural designer and engineer in Urbana at the firm of Joseph W. Royer, then moved to Jackson in 1912, establishing the firm Overstreet & Spencer. Over the next decades he would design courthouses, schools, churches, and private residences, including the First Baptist Church and Lamar Life Building in Jackson.

“In the 1910s and 1920s, Overstreet worked in a variety of eclectic styles, particularly a kind of classicized Mediterranean idiom he favored for courthouses,” said Fazio.

In 1931, he established a partnership with A. Hayes Town as Overstreet & Town, which lasted until 1939. “When Town arrived, the firm deflected toward the Modern and Moderne and combinations of the two, but the work never reflected the full Modernist program,” said Fazio. “It raises the question: was there ever a full-blown modern architecture in Mississippi?”

N.W. Overstreet became a Fellow with the AIA in 1952, nominated for his “notable and outstanding contribution to the advancement of the profession of architecture by his excellent designs as well as the educational service rendered by him to younger men.” Overstreet retired from practice in 1968, at which time he claimed more than 650 buildings as his design. At the end of his career, 24 of the 42 architects working in Jackson had been employed in his office at some time.

Michael Fazio is emeritus professor of architecture at Mississippi State University. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Auburn University, a Master of Architecture degree from the Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. in the History of Architecture and Urban Development from Cornell University. He works as an architectural preservation consultant in the southeast region. Fazio taught architectural design studios and architectural history in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University from 1974 to 2006 and is now an emeritus professor. His book Landscape of Transformations: Architecture and Birmingham, Alabama was published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2010.  He is currently preparing a volume of essays on southern architecture and is writing (with co-author Jennifer Baughn) a guidebook to Mississippi architecture, which will be part of the Society of Architectural Historians Buildings of the United States series.

The program will take place in the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, 200 North Street, Jackson, MS 39201. There is no charge to attend. For more information call 601-576-6998 or email info@mdah.state.ms.us.

Columbia High School (1937-38, Overstreet & Town, archts.)

Columbia High School (1937-38, Overstreet & Town, archts.)

For more about N.W. Overstreet:


Categories: MS Dept. of Archives and History, Preservation Education, Preservation People/Events


4 replies

  1. “designing buildings across the state and in Louisiana and Tennessee throughout his long career.” Add Arkansas to that list. He designed the First Baptist Church (1931) in Lake Village as well as a residence.


  2. Oh, no! I may have to attend a HiL.


  3. Pontotoc County Courthouse was one of Mr. Overstreet’s works of art. Built in 1915 this beauty is still a grand addition to our community. 2003-2005 renovation was necessary but thanks to Belinda Stewart the building went back to it’s starting point. I’m thankful for his insight and talent.


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