MissPres at 9: The Old Capitol’s First (?) Hurricane

T.F. Laist, 1915. interior of Old Capitol Building. MDAH Accession PI/STR/C36 /Box 20 Folder 95

Today is this little blog’s 9th anniversary, and since our first post ever was about the Old Capitol, each year we celebrate by revisiting this National Historic Landmark and the storms, both literal and figurative, it has endured and overcome.

In September 1909, a bad hurricane hit the Gulf Coast and, like Katrina, caused major damage all the way up in Jackson. Also like Katrina, this hurricane ripped off the roof of the Old Capitol. I believe this 1909 hurricane explains the set of 1915 photos taken by T.F. Laist (1868-1939) that show the Old Capitol in virtual ruins, with trees and vines growing up in the Senate chamber and former Supreme Court. The photos for many years were taken as evidence of how badly deteriorated the building was when it was abandoned for the New Capitol in 1903, but I think this 1909 hurricane, not necessarily the lack of maintenance, brought about the shocking decline of the Old Capitol less than 15 years after it was vacated.  I was also surprised to see a description of extensive damage to the eastern dome of the New Capitol–then only 6 years old–over the Senate chamber.

I looked up the 1909 hurricane in my very useful copy of Mississippi Weather and Climate by Kathleen Sherman-Morris (et al, 2012), and on page 110, I presume it is describing this hurricane, even though it doesn’t mention damage in Jackson:

Although 1909 had an active hurricane season, no hurricane made landfall in Mississippi. Lives were lost in both Mississippi and Louisiana by a strong storm that made landfall about 50 miles west of New Orleans.

Jackson Daily News, September 21, 1909



More anniversary posts . . .

Categories: Capitols Old & New, Disasters, Gulf Coast, Jackson


5 replies

  1. “many houses were unroofed…” I think I can say that is the first time I have heard this description.


  2. Happy Anniversary Misspreservation.com!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Will the Old Capitol continue to be a museum, now that the new Mississippi Museum is open? It is such a beautiful building!


  4. congrats on your anniversary; sorry i didn’t discover misspreservation ‘at the beginning’, but am happy to be a part of our ‘community’ now–even ‘long distance’.

    ms has had a variety of talented, interesting native-born and emigre architects(and ‘contractor-builders), but our state also has (or has had) structures created from designs by ‘nationally recognized architects’–like carey long and st mary’s basilica, natchez, and frank lloyd and ‘fountainhead’, jackson.

    has anyone ever done a list of the latter? if not, periodically, this could be a pertinent topic for misspreservation, of course, where does one put bldgs taken from designs by ‘national architects’ that appeared in design books, such as jackson’s mansnip house, from a davis design; annandale, madison, closely influenced by a lafever design?

    Liked by 1 person

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