McComb’s Downtown Theater Collapses

A landmark historic building in downtown McComb collapsed on Sunday without any injuries to passersby, according to the McComb Enterprise-Journal.

Firefighters gather at the scene of a building collapse in McComb on Sunday evening.
Matt Williamson | Enterprise-Journal

Built around 1920, the four-story building had originally been the State Bank and Trust, with Jacob’s Theater in the upper floor. Later, JCPenney occupied the lower floor, and the theater had been renovated as a performing arts center. The Enterprise-Journal notes that a church had used the theater space earlier on Sunday, and a school group had also gathered here, so we can all be thankful that no one was hurt or killed in this terrible event. However, the loss of such a major architectural landmark, as well as a building that was in active community use, is a major blow to downtown McComb.

Jubilee Performing Arts Center (former McComb State Bank and Jacob’s Theater), built c.1920. Photo April 2013.

Jubilee Performing Arts Center (former McComb State Bank and Jacob’s Theater), built c.1920. Photo April 2013.

Categories: Disasters, McComb, Theaters


22 replies

  1. This is quite bizarre. Normally buildings that appear healthy do not just collapse on sunny summer days. I am very curious to hear the forensics on this.


  2. So sad, and strange! Accidental demolition by neglect? It sounds like it was a well-used building and they would have known it wasn’t sound. Glad no one was injured!


  3. Some reports said due to the weather and age. What was the weather like? Heavy rain and the drains stopped up?


    • We were thinking the same thing at the same moment (see my comment above), Beauregard . . .


    • Yeah, I saw that note about “age and weather.” Age has nothing to do with it–maintenance and structural solutions for getting water off the roof and not inside the walls will keep very old buildings standing long after their younger un-maintained cousins fall down. Those kinds of statements in the news make people suspicious of all historic buildings, when they shouldn’t be.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Well said, E.L. Buildings, historic or not, fail because their caretakers are either ignorant of building maintenance, or they just don’t CARE. Or both. The people who should have attended this building’s problems are extremely lucky that they do not have blood on their hands.


      • I obviously know nowhere near what all of you do, but I did think about water damage. After reading the preservation brief about preserving historic concrete, I conclude that water damage is pretty close to the death knell for any building if it is not controlled and managed and damage prevented, or detected and repaired. I found it most interesting that the concrete preservation brief from the National Park Service emphasized the importance of an assessment and planning stage to prevent the kinds of problems that can occur in masonry of any kind.

        I hope McComb will have the resources and will to repair the building and schedule maintenance. Once again, I learn that a plan of sustainability is critical in everything.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re absolutely right about water. The only thing worse for a building is people; what they do or don’t do to take care of buildings.


          • Sadly, however, the thought that the town will now spend millions of dollars (this would not be a repair, it would be a complete re-building) is a delusion. Tragically, they have let the patient die.


  4. I’m with the others about water from the heavy rains y’all have had in MS building up on the flat roof due to poor drainage – especially since the collapse was inside. Reminds me of how a tarp used as a canopy/shade will collect water in the center before it collapses in on itself.

    Maybe they can find a way to salvage what they can, find like materials for what they can’t, and think about repairing rather than demolishing it completely – especially if the building had been in active use prior to the collapse.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And a consideration of “old buildings” in downtown McComb:

    City officials are blaming the cause of the collapse on rainwater weighing down an aged roof on top of a 97-year-old building.

    [Architect Steve] Cox said the flat roofs on downtown buildings are in need of attention to make sure water drains properly, but some property owners have limited access to them. In fact, he used Kramer Roof to access the top of his building next door.

    “It’s important that we do make sure our roofs are taken care of, that they’re draining because it’s my guess that it was water on the roof that caused that issue,” he said. “Now that we have this drone technology, I can see it being easier to maintain roofs.”

    . . .

    Developer Greg Gibson, who along with his brother Neel have renovated the old Harlan building and other downtown properties, noted that clogged downspouts are more likely to cause problems and raise the risk of collapse than the roof being flat. And roofs are rarely flat.

    “Most of the roofs are sloped or domed slightly, with downspouts in the corner to get the water down,” he said. “We don’t just look at how good of shape the roofs are in but how good of a shape the downspouts are.

    “Water weighs eight pounds per gallon, so if you do the math, if you have a downpour you can have 10 tons of water on your building and it’s not designed for that.”


  6. I used to go to this school. I believe that water damage was the problem because looking at drone image, the roof was mostly flat and maybe even moldy/rotting. It was most likely a maintenance issue.

    (drone image:


  7. Though often exacerbated by other factors, it’s almost always a maintenance issue. AKA: NEGLECT.


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