When looking at architectural history it is important to consider building types in addition to architectural styles. One such building that might not carry much architectural merit is the roadside storage unit. This lowly structure is practically in every town, hamlet, and crossroads throughout Mississippi (and the rest of the country). I had not given much thought to these building types before, let alone their provenance. But after reading the article below in a 1975 Delta Democrat Times, my interest had been piqued, and I figured the article was worth sharing.
New mini-warehouse business to open
Mini-warehouses, which provide small spaces for personal or light commercial storage, are making their debut in Greenville.
Self-Service Storage, Inc. is finishing construction of its first building at 1103 Lewis St., designed to contain 20 storage units, and has begun building an additional 40 units.
Jim McCoy, president of Self-Service Storage, said that each unit has either a steel man-door or a roll-up overhead door, and sizes vary from 8×20 feet to 12×20. There are some units under construction which will be as large as 15×30.
The units offer the apartment dweller, the small businessman or the homeowner with a crowded garage a place to store property and have access to it any time during day and early evening, McCoy said.
“These units usually appear in an area after a sizable number of apartments are built, and Greenville has recently experienced growth in this area,” McCoy said. “It’s like a super-size lock box, where you use your own padlock and you’re the only one who has a key.”
The units rent by the month, with a slightly lower rate obtained for renting by th year.
“We think this will be a welcome addition to a growing Greenville.” McCoy said.
–Delta Democrat Times August 10, 1975
This storage unit building is still standing at 1103 Lewis Street. Doesn’t look like it has changed much since this article was published in 1975. The first of the two buildings does indeed look to have twenty units with nine on both the north and south elevations, with presumably, two units on the west elevation. It looks like a small office is accessed from the east side. The second building that was alluded to in the article was constructed, though it appears to only have fourteen units, far short of the speculated forty additional units mentioned in the article.
The introduction of the mini-warehouse appears in Mississippi about 1974. Does anyone remember a building of a similar type that was around before this self-service storage? It’s hard to imagine, but this structure could be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in a mere 6 years.