Showing The Stuff She Is Made Of: Laurel’s 1909 Building Boom

A recent story titled “Downtown Laurel in bloom, thanks to young entrepreneurs that ran in the Clarion-Ledger made me think about an article that highlighted a residential building boom that took place in Laurel some one hundred plus years earlier.  This boom led to some of the town’s most notable dwellings. Hopefully you will recognize some names of architects and builders in the article as they have been mentioned here on Preservation in Mississippi before.  I’ve illustrated the original article with some photos from the c.1986 National Register Nominations for the Newell Rogers House and the Laurel Central Historic District.

Costly and Artistic Buildings are
Going Up Everywhere
Laurel’s Future, Founded On Resources
of Lasting Wealth. She’s Showing
The Stuff She Is Made Of

The saw and the hammer, with the trowel, these days in the City of Laurel are keeping time with the staccato notes of the riveter and the dull roar of the concrete mixer, and van-colored tiled and shingled roofs, are showing up in every direction amid the living verdure as the builders blaze their way in the contest to add wealth and population to the city.

During the past ten weeks fully $50,000 worth of building lots of the city have changed hands and on the average basis, that the ground represents one-half the value of the building, this would represent another investment of $100,000, with a house on every building lot.

But just wait and count again. With residences going up and in process of completion, costing $2,000 to $20,000, that $100,000 is already eaten up.

And there are more to come.  Some are in hands of the contractors and some in the hands of the architects, who are preparing the plans and specifications.

706 N. 6th Avenue. Laurel, Jones County, Miss. 1986 photo by Mary W. Miller from Newell Rogers House National Register Nomination

706 N. Sixth Ave. Laurel, Miss. 1986 photo by Mary W. Miller from Newell Rogers House National Register Nomination.

The costliest of the elegant homes that have been just completed is the effectively impressive two and a half storied with attic residence, of concrete con-construction (sic), which will be soon occupied by Mr. Newell Rogers.  This home occupies a commanding position on the northwest comer of Sixth avenue and Seventh street.


540 N. Fifth Ave. Laurel, Miss. April 20, 2011 by Author

The large and beautiful residence lot on Fifth avenue, immediately north of Sixth street, from which Mr. P. S. Gardiner’s former home was removed, is becoming a scene of activity, the work of digging the basement for his new home being complete and preparation started for the concrete and brick work on what is to be one of the handsome homes of the state. The architect of this building is M. I. C. Garber, who also planned the Rogers home. The construction work is under the supervision of Mr. J. F. Garber. The Messrs. Garber are from Jackson.

Space forbids detailed write-ups of the numerous new buildings in one issue of The Ledger, but two are given.




705 N. Fifth Ave. Laurel, Miss. c.1984 photo by Michael W. Fazio from Laurel Central Historic District National Register Nomination.

On the southeast corner of Fifth avenue and Seventh street is nearing completion an elegant home for President John Lindsey, of the Lindsey Lumber Co., of Beaumont, Miss. It is a two storied building constructed of reinforced concrete throughout, and when completed will be one of the many fashionable residences just completed or in course of construction with which Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eight avenues will soon be adorned.

This new home fronts Fifth avenue, the upper story of which forms a loggia occupying the center of the facade and entered from the main hall of the second floor; the veranda roof being supported by four heavy Doric columns in pairs resting on substantial pedestals. The portico proper stretches across the entire front width, the ceiling of which is supported by ten smaller columns, three grouped at each corner. The portico, like the building, is of concrete. On the north side the portico opens onto an uncovered passage way to the porte cochere also of concrete ornamented with a number of columns of the same style as those of the portico. The porte cochere is also approached by a side hall which leads to the main hall of the lower floor.

Immediate entrance from the portico is through the entrance hall of liberal width on the left of which is the library. On the right is the living room and to the rear of which is the dining room which has entrances from the main hall and through the butler’s pantry from the kitchen.  The second floor, reached either by a broad stairway or the elevator [! emphasis added], has four commodious rooms, two on each side with a bath room between each pair.  The rooms can be used singly or en suite. Light, air and spaciousness are strikingly apparent throughout this ornate home.

Steel lathing is used throughout the upper floor in the ceiling and partition walls. Hardwood flooring will cover the concrete and the building will be heated with a system of hot air pipes and registers.

The building is according to the plans of Architect P. J. Krouse, of Meridian, and the construction work is under the supervision of Mr. C. E. McLaurin, who expects to have the home completed by January 1,1910.



716 N. Fourth Ave. Laurel, Miss. c.1984 photo by Michael W. Fazio from Laurel Central Historic District National Register Nomination.

On Fourth avenue, just north of Sixth street, there is a two-story frame being rapidly pushed to completion for Dr. P.C. Clarke. Work was begun ten days ago and on Monday last the roof was ready for the shingles and the carpenters had begun to cover the outside sheething (sic) with hard pine round beavelled (sic) novelty siding.


Staircase. 716 N. Fourth Ave. Laurel, Miss. From realtors website.

The building fronts east on Fourth avenue, the covered-in entrance portico leading into the entrance hall, from which a broken flight of steps lead to the second floor. On the left of the entrance hall is the “living” room which is directly connected with the kitchen. On the right of the entrance hall is the reception room and office of Dr. Clarke.  This office, has also an outside entrance to the north of the main entrance. The upper floor contains four bed rooms and a bathroom. On the south side is a 17-foot square covered portico.  The interior throughout will be finished in plaster and yellow pine. A hot air system will furnish the heat and the entire house wired for electric lights. The building will be painted white with green blinds and the roof will be green-stained shingles.  The architects are DeBuys, Churchill & Labouisse of New Orleans and the construction work is in charge of Contractor W. M. Norris, who counts on delivering the building within the next four or five weeks.

-BUILDING BOOM IN FULL SWAY The Laurel Ledger Thursday October 7, 1909

Wow, where to begin!  There are so many great houses discussed here.  Even the Fourth Avenue house, which I’ll admit would not have caught my attention initially, shows how much thought went into its planning.

The Lindsey Home by P.J. Krouse is quite impressive with its elevator and all.  I am intrigued by all the concrete houses being built, especially when John Lindsey himself was a lumber company president who could have undoubtedly acquired lumber at quite a discount to build his own home.  Fire was a big concern, so that may have driven all the concrete construction.  I will agree with the comment about the P. S. Gardiner Residence being “one of the handsome homes of the state.”  The first time I saw it I stopped dead in my tracks and must have stared for several minutes.  It is built in a style that is not common in Mississippi, nor is terracotta a common residential construction material.  The alternating triangular and semicircular pediments above the second story windows are quite attractive.

I do believe there was some confusion on the part of the author over the originators of the designs.  DeBuys, Churchill & Labouisse are documented as being the architects for the Newell Rogers House, not M.I.C Garber. In this case Garber might have been the architect for the Dr. Clark Residence, rather than DeBuys, Churchill & Labouisse.  A mix up of notes may have occurred and the designers were switched.  So it’s possible that DeBuys, Churchill & Labouisse could have been the architects for the P.S. Gardiner House also.  I am not sure if M.I.C. Garber is a misprint of “Mr. I.C. Garber.”  Issac Calvin Garber was a builder out of Jackson.  I’m not sure who J.F. Garber would be, perhaps a brother of I.C.?  According to the 1900 census I.C. had a brother James F. born in 1880.  By the 1940 census James was living in Jackson and had been since at least 1935 employed as a carpenter.  It seems more research would be needed to confirm all this.

Categories: Architectural Research, Historic Preservation, Laurel


6 replies

  1. Interesting article. I’ve never been to Laurel but I’ll plan it into my next trip to Mississippi.


  2. Obviously, a Johnny-come-lately to this website. But is the “concrete” construction of steel-reinforced(rebar) nature? I. C. Garber is listed as architect and contractor for the Rogers home in this link that I provided.
    I. C. Garber lost a son, James, in a construction accident involving an “Auto-Wagon.” Sounds like the MRS
    “Mississippi Wagon.”


  3. For the record:
    I. C. Garber’s son, Jessee, was killed in a collision with a cotton wagon. A very common cause of accidents in cotton-growing areas with mule-pulled cotton wagons late in the evening headed to the gin or leaving such.
    Back in the early 1950s, Potts Gin Company in Crawford began providing reflectors to be attached to the wagons after a tragic accident involving a automobile rear-ending a mule-pulled cotton wagon with the negro farmer’s family atop the cotton and headed for the Gin.


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