Newspaper Clippings: Wiring the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank, 1960

Here’s an interesting take on a building that’s appeared a few times here on MissPres, most recently an announcement of its new owners and plans for new life. Here we get an article that was first published in a trade journal and then in the Hattiesburg American, and it focuses not on the architecture, per se, but on the electrical do-dads and whats-ums, most spectacularly the vertical louvers that opened and closed (at least in the marketing) by the sun. I’ve heard that the louvers never exactly worked as planned, but I’m not sure when they were removed from the building entirely. It’s still a stunning building though, with its dramatic thin-shell concrete arcade roof  and ribbon windows.

LOUVERS FOR LIGHTING–Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank features solar-controlled louvers for lighting. Here, the left louvers are open, the right ones are closed. This part of the system is operated by eight motors, two on each floor. The louvers are controlled by the intensity of sunlight on two photo-electric cells atop of the bank. Intensity of the sunlight thus regulates the louvers’ positions.

Amazing Electrical System Installed By Local Firm

(Following is a condensation of an article by Bill Abbot which appeared in the June issue of Electrical South magazine.)

The electrical system of the new million-dollar four-story Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank at Pascagoula does just about everything except turn handsprings, and does it automatically.

Crowds ats its opening, earlier this year, passed through hydraulically operated doors, breathed high voltage electronically filtered air, enjoyed electronically distributed music, and marveled at a sonar controlled security system and solar timed natural lighting.

These modern devices helped provide a pleasant atmosphere of dignified serenity and efficiency to visitors. To the wiring contractor, however, they were an interesting challenge and a practical example of rapid new developments in electrical engineering and manufacturing.

According to Bobby Chain, president of Chain Electric Company, Inc., of Hattiesburg, who did the wiring, the job pointed up to him and his permanent force of 23 the necessity of staying abreast of new designs, materials, methods, and uses.

“Some of these new things have hidden cost factors that a contractor may not have experienced,” he said. “It is going to pay him to know all about them, despite their newness, before he undertakes to bid on their wiring.”

The Pascagoula job included wiring for such modern equipment as a television coaxial cable, a sound and music system, and a burglar alarm that is operated manually and also by sonar controls activated by noise near the vaults after business hours.

Also included are hydraulic pedal doors, a large air-conditioning-heating system with high voltage air filters, a solar time controlled natural lighting system and an underfloor electrical distribution system.

The solar time control lighting system is the most spectacular novelty, consisting of giant louvers or vanes on two sides of the building, east and south, operating from open to closed positions by eight motors, two on each floor. There are two control panels, one for each side. The panels are activated by two photoelectric cell units on the roof, facing the same direction as the louvers they control. Intensity of the sunlight thus regulates the position of the louvers.

“The system looks and sounds fantastic,” Mr. Chain said, “but its workings are very simple. Its wiring was merely a routine job. The thing that gave us our biggest problem was the underfloor duct distribition and general wiring.”

The newness of some of the building’s requirements were normal to Chain’s crew, who have come to expect surprises and the unusual in rapidly changing job specifications for Southern construction. By coping with these, the Chain organization has grown in five years from a house and rented warehouse enterprise to one covering the entire state of Mississippi. Specializing in industrial, business and instutitional contracts, the company has modern offices and headquarters in Hattiesburg. It operates its own fourplace airplane and a truck-to-office radio system reaching out 150 miles into its annual million-dollar operation.

Hattiesburg American, July 16, 1960, p.2

Note: The photo at the top of this post came from a different publication than the Hattiesburg American due to poor quality photo reproduction in the American article.

original rendering courtesy of Defining Downtown at Mid-Century


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Categories: Banks, Gulf Coast, Historic Preservation, Pascagoula

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