In 1974, the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects held its fourth annual convention, according to a Delta Democrat Times blurb, and presented six honor awards. The awards were dominated by a Greenville firm that picked up four awards. Below the article, I’ve illustrated the award winners with photos.
G’ville firm wins four awards
A Greenville architectural firm won four of the top six awards presented Saturday at the fourth annual convention of the Mississippi chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
The firm is Virden & Roberson, Ltd. The award-winning restoration projects are the 706 Arnold Ave. home (a former military academy) of architect Matt Virden III, and the guest apartment-office building at 230 Main St. Award-winning new design projects are the Commercial Bank Branch in Greenville Mall and the health-physical education building at Mississippi Valley State University.
Of the 27 projects nominated by the chapter’s honor awards committee, 10 of them were by Greenville architects.Delta Democrat Times August 18, 1974
I do not believe the two projects referred to as “restorations” would be considered as such today. They are more along the lines of remodeling. While 706 Arnold Avenue is still around (the link contains some interior photos), 230 Main Street burned in the early 1990s. The only picture I could locate of that building was from the National Register nomination for the downtown Greenville historic district, and the photo is of the fire ruins.
The Commercial Bank branch was a bit confusing. Was this a branch actually located in the mall itself, or is this the handsome bank building that is now a Trustmark situated on an out parcel of the mall?
The health-physical education building at MVSU is possibly the Dr. Robert W. Harrison Health and Recreation Center. The entry in the MDAH HRI database states the date of construction for this building as 1952, but it isn’t clear where this date derives from.
The two Jackson buildings were easier to identify, somewhat. The Xerox Building is at 660 North Street, formerly 666 North Street, currently holding state offices. The Gartin Justice Building was demolished in 2008, and its replacement was a topic of discussion in the early days of the MissPres website.
It is interesting to look back and see what architects valued as the best new buildings being designed and built at a certain time. With two of these buildings not having survived beyond 45 years, is this indicative of America’s fickle obsession with the new, even when it comes to buildings that received recognition? The national AIA decided against awarding any 25-year awards this year for the first time since the award’s official inception. The award is conferred on a building that has stood the test of time for 25-35 years and continues to set standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance. Do you think there is an inference that the buildings from 25-35 years ago, including buildings that received accolades when new, no longer hold merit?
I am curious as to what the other twenty-one nominated projects were, and how they have weathered the test of time and public opinion.