Back in December 2016, when the latest round of Community Heritage Preservation Grants was announced, you may have noticed, as I did, the largest grant on the list:
Bailey School, Jackson, Hinds County—$370,000
For stabilization of the structure and restoration of the classrooms and auditorium.
I was curious about this stabilization of a poured-concrete structure, the pride and joy of our favorite concrete-loving architect N.W. Overstreet and his young partner A. Hays Town. The building seems in great shape as I occasionally drive past on North State Street, so on one recent sunny weekend, I headed down to see what I could see. Wow! What I saw was a big ol’ crack, or rather, a few big ol’ cracks where the projecting auditorium wing meets the small one-story south entrance wing.
That crack coming off the buttressed corner of the entrance wing and running diagonally up the auditorium wall is particularly scary. As those of you who have ever spent time around Jackson know, the soil is a highly expansive clay called Yazoo Clay that swells when wet and shrinks when dry. Mississippi has had a particularly bad run of really really wet winters and really really dry summers the last couple of years, and I assume this unprecedented cracking in Bailey is partly tied to that and partly to the weight of the large air handling unit on top of the entrance wing, which as you can see is visibly sinking away from the rest of the building (no, that’s not an optical illusion).
So, I’m not sure what the plans are for this stabilization, but I hope these pictures prove that Bailey Junior High School (no, I can’t call it “Bailey Middle School”) really needs some attention to keep it in shape for another generation of students.