Architects of Mississippi: Raymond Birchett (1902-1974)

A long while ago, I did a post about the abandoned Mercy Hospital in Vicksburg, which continues to be a popular post here on MissPres. I used a newspaper clipping from the special edition of the Vicksburg Post that ran the day of its grand opening, but I missed the long biographical article in the same edition about the architect, Raymond Birchett, a World War II veteran. Recently, I came back across that bio and thought it needed a wider audience.

Raymond Birchett, Architect and Engineer, Is Native Vicksburger

birchett030The architect for Mercy Hospital-Street Memorial and its adjunct facilities, was Raymond Birchett, native Vicksburger, and member of a prominent family, long associated with the civic life of this community.

Born on Farmer street, Mr. Birchett was the younger son of Dr. and Mrs. J.A.K. Birchett, Sr. As a youth he attended the Walnut Street School and was graduated from the old high school on Clay Street.

In 1920 he entered the University of Mississippi attending for two years as a student of Civil engineering. From 1922 to 1925 he attended the University of Illinois, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering.

Gaining experience and further knowledge in his chosen field, he was in the employ of a number of architectural offices and took a number of short courses in mechanical and engineering subjects.

From 1931 to 1941, Mr. Birchett was associated with the Mississippi River Commission in Vicksburg as a safety engineer, structural engineer and architect. At the same time he operated a separate office as a registered architect in Vicksburg.

When war clouds gathered and this country entered its program of military expansion, Mr. Birchett was placed in charge of the Military Construction Section, Office of the President of The Mississippi River Commission, Lower Mississippi Valley division. In that capacity he had charge of all military construction from Meridian, Mississippi to the Texas line and from Missouri, to the Gulf of Mexico.

In 1942, Mr. Birchett entered the armed forces with the rank of Major of Engineering, and in 1943 was ordered to Virginia, where he attended the School of Military Government at the University of Virginia.

In 1943 he went overseas, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, where he served as engineer for AMG Fifth army. While in this capacity he was attached to the Second Corps and Fourth Corps and was engineer for Rome Allied Africa Command.

Serving his country with distinction, Raymond Birchett upon the Allied occupation of Rome, was promoted to full Colonel in 1944. He later served as Engineer of Piedemonte and Leguria.

In 1946 he returned to Vicksburg and the office of the President, Mississippi River Commission, where he remained until the spring of 1947.

Moving to Jackson in 1947, Mr. Birchett entered into partnership with Frank P. Gates of Jackson and formed the firm of Gates and Birchett, Architects and Engineers. This firm continued in operation until 1949 when it was dissolved by mutual consent.

Since 1948 Mr. Birchett has operated as Raymond Birchett, Architect and Engineer, and the organization built up by him has been continuously rendering architecture and engineering services over this area.

These services include consultations, reports, design studies, detailed drawings, specification, estimates, supervision and inspection of the work under contract. Because of the fluctuation in the volume of work the number of office and field employees has necessarily changed from time to time, the minimum usually being four and the maximum nine.

In addition to these, the mechanical work, electrical work, and structural work are done through association with consulting firms and individuals. For electrical work Richard E. Cope, Consulting Electrical Engineer, is employed as an associate; for mechanical work, James W. Taylor, Consulting Mechanical Engineer, is employed as an associate. On larger jobs the engineering firm of Clyde Maxwell and Associates is employed as structural engineers. The type of work done by the firm covers all phases of building construction.

Mr. Birchett and his lovely wife, make their home in Jackson, however, maintain many Vicksburg contacts and are frequent visitors here.

Vicksburg Evening Post, Mercy Hospital-Street Memorial Section, Tuesday, May 7, 1957, p. 6

The MDAH Historic Resources Database currently lists 39 properties for Birchett and his three firms from the late 1930s through the early 1970s, including Mercy Hospital and a nice post-WWII Colonial Revival school, Grove Street Elementary, located just up the street from Mercy.

Grove Street Elementary School, 1315 Grove Street (1949, Gates & Birchett, M.T. Reed Construction)

Grove Street Elementary School, 1315 Grove Street (1949, Gates & Birchett, M.T. Reed Construction)

Mercy Hospital-Street Memorial (1957, Raymond Birchett, archt.; Seth E. Giem & Associates, contractor)

Mercy Hospital-Street Memorial (1957, Raymond Birchett, archt.; Seth E. Giem & Associates, contractor)

Categories: Architectural Research, Hospitals/Medical, Schools, Vicksburg


2 replies

  1. The link to his work lists a large number of education buildings, including many for Valley State University, and several hospitals. This was a great read, so thanks for deciding it needed a wider audience!


  2. The goggie porte-cochère for Mercy Hospital evokes a carwash. I love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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