I recently saw a Pascagoula real estate listing that caught my eye. The former Pascagoula National Bank at 535 Delmas Avenue is on the market. Originally built in 1938, the bank is the only building I am aware of that R. W. Naef designed in Pascagoula. According to the MDAH HRI database entries for Naef, it is only one of two buildings designed by him or his firm on the coast.
Over the years the building was re-purposed to serve as a police station and most recently held offices for the U.S. Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI. I imagine one of those groups may be indirectly responsible for the removal of all the historic fenestration. In historic pictures the building had large windows on the first floor that appear to be multi-light steel casement windows and a plethora of one over one wood sash on the second floor. With just a quick count from our two photos I see 31 windows in the historic photograph (counting storefronts and large first floor windows as one each) and only 14 windows in the current day photograph. It really goes to show how important windows are to a building’s appearance.
Another missing feature seen in historic photos (and confirmed by Sanborn maps) are the two storefronts that were on the right hand side of the east elevation. These two store fronts would have provided plenty of rental income for the bank.
Unfortunately none of the interior shots in the mimeographed article came out well enough to share here but the interior has an Art Moderne flare that any Pascagoulan in 1938 would have been at home with, considering the wonderful Art Moderne Pascagoula High School was under-construction and would be completed in 1939. Not much of the original interior remains today based on viewing the realtor’s photographs. But having peeked in the front door myself I can say that some wonderful terrazzo flooring remains in the vestibule. Something curious that remains unchanged about the building are the two metal pipes that appear to be holding up the utility poll on the east elevation. Those pipes may relate to the telephone exchange that was an original second floor tenant. Who is our resident MissPres telephone expert?
A little bit of work could make this building really shine again. With all the original openings put back into place the interior would have loads of natural light. With a National Register listing for the building the work might even be eligible for preservation tax credits to boot.