Mississippi’s Best Buildings of 1972

This post is a follow up to a post from a few weeks back that stimulated quite a bit of conversation about appreciation of architecture from the late 1960s and early 1970s that are now reaching the golden fifty-year mark when buildings can be considered for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings in today’s post are less than five years from reaching their fiftieth birthday.  Below is a brief 1972 Delta Democrat Times article that highlights two designs in the Delta that received recognition from the Mississippi Chapter of AIA at their annual convention.

Design Winners

James Herbert White Library. Mississippi Valley State College, Itta Bena MS from the Delta Democrat Times 8-20-1972

Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building. Leland, MS from the Delta Democrat Times 8-20-1972

Designers of two new Mid-Delta buildings were honored Friday at the annual convention of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Jackson architect Charles Craig received an “honor award” for his design of the William [sic] Herbert White Library (above) at Mississippi Valley State College in Itta Bena.  The Greenville architect Joe N. Weilenman received an “honorable mention” in the statewide competition for his design of the Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building (left) in Leland.  Weilenman’s design was cited for “its imaginative building-land-water relationship and its appropriate use of materials.”

Delta Democrat Times August 20, 1972


Unlike our last 1970’s awards post, both of today’s buildings are still standing. The MVSU James Herbert White Library was completed in 1971, according to the building’s plaque, but it got a pretty significant remodeling in 2013, eliminating any hopes of the building being National Register eligible.  The Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building looked good the last time I saw it.  The description given in the brief news clipping gives us some insight into what the awarding jury considered the most important aspects of the Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building:  “imaginative building-land-water relationship and “appropriate use of materials.”

Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building. Leland, Mississippi from http://www.suzassippi.wordpress.com accessed 3-27-2018

The placement of the building over the bank of the river is interesting.  While not groundbreaking, it was probably a conscious aesthetic decision to place the building over the creek.  Defining the “appropriate use of materials” might be a bit more difficult to pin down.  Perhaps the jury thought that the choice of board-and-batten siding embraced this cladding type’s vernacular roots?

Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building. Leland, Mississippi from http://www.suzassippi.wordpress.com accessed 3-27-2018

The Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building, which is now home to the Birthplace of Kermit The Frog Museum, is within the boundaries of the local Leland Historic District but outside the National Register District. I am unsure what year the building was constructed. The building is very likely to have been heavily influenced by Condominium 1 in Sea Ranch, California that was built in 1965 and designed by architect Charles Moore.  Condominium 1 was listed on the National Register in 2005, when it was only 40 years old, due to the significant impact it had on American architecture.  The National Register nomination for the Sea Ranch structure cites both the placement and the material choices of the Condominium 1 as revolutionary at the time.  It was a reaction to the “International Style ideal [of] the pristine box dropped into a well-tended landscape… [The structure] is in harmony with the landscape by borrowing from local vernacular forms and native materials…  Condominium 1 made a revolutionary, if not initial, break with [the International Style’s] tradition.”

Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building. Leland, Mississippi from http://www.suzassippi.wordpress.com accessed 3-27-2018

The James Herbert White Library and the Deer Creek Park Recreation and Maintenance Building are just two of the buildings recognized at the 1972 Mississippi AIA conference.  I’ve yet to identify any other buildings that received an award at the conference.

Categories: Architectural Research, Bridges, Delta, Historic Preservation, Itta Bena, Leland, Libraries, Modernism, National Register, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Recent Past, Renovation Projects


9 replies

  1. Interesting about Condominium 1 design. I personally think it was so Kermie could come and go easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kermie’s coastal cousins have certainly been vocal the last few days. Maybe they were trying to tell me something?

      I like the museum building. Its bridge and the board and batten siding are pointed, local vernacular hallmarks, but I can’t help but think that maybe a better local vernacular form for the structure would be the building type reflected in the front elevations windows? A cotton gin. Sadly that gin looks to have been demolished by 2016.


  2. Another great post on my favorite subject: Mid-cen design in Miss’sippi!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. white libr–ms’s miniature version, with fewer ‘ins and outs’, of the boston city hall–kallman, mckinnell & knowles, with associates, 1963-68, after a two stage, 250-plus entries competition in 1962. if i were computer-literate, i could post some photos of the boston bldg–maybe mr roselle can? it is huge ‘in real life’, and kind of crammed into a urban space that formerly had some old bldgs(of course!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had never thought of the comparison, but the use of the vertical and horizontal concrete plains on the Boston City Hall are used on the library. I don’t know if that’s where the comparison stops as I never had a chance to visit the MVSU Library prior to its remodeling, so I can’t comment on any original features of the building. The plaza and open space beneath Boston City Hall would probably have been a welcome component to the library design by providing a shady spot in an otherwise sun-scorched quad.


  4. white libr is ‘less brutal’ than the ‘brutalist style’ of the boston city hall, for those of you familiar with this style!


  5. Speaking of buildings from the 1970s, John Portman fans will be happy to hear that Peachtree Center in Atlanta has just been listed on the National Register:


    “The Peachtree Center Historic District spans fourteen blocks, just north of the historic city center at Five Points. Constructed between 1961 and 1988 by architect-developer, John C. Portman, Jr., Peachtree Center includes seven office towers, three hotels, two Mart buildings, the Peachtree Center Mall retail building and subterranean food court, and one stand-alone parking garage. The district is urban, and all buildings are between 15 and 73 stories in height and are unified by consistent design, defined by distinctly heavy massing, vertical ribbing, vertical ribbon windows, and exposed aggregate precast concrete panel exteriors. These character-defining features, which comprise what is best described as a refined permutation of the Brutalist style of architecture, identify the buildings of the district as Peachtree Center and visually stand out against a backdrop of more classically inspired and contemporary buildings outside the district.

    “The Peachtree Center Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as significant in the areas of architecture, community planning and development, and social history. It was listed at the national, state, and local levels of significance in architecture and community planning and development for its association with the productive life and work of architect and developer John C. Portman, Jr. As one of the world’s most celebrated and successful architects, Portman explored innovative ideas and approaches throughout the design and construction of Peachtree Center, which included many of his earliest and most significant projects. Central to his success in testing these new ideas was his approach to development, which was first implemented at Peachtree Center. He expanded the role of an architect to include functions of a developer, which led to Portman’s recognition as the first architect-developer. Portman’s combination of these two roles allowed Peachtree Center to be his “proving ground” for architectural and urban planning innovation, which largely resulted in pedestrian-oriented design with the idea of the “coordinated unit” of interconnected pedestrian-oriented city blocks. This pedestrian orientation is seen through the use of sky bridges to connect each of the individual buildings and through Portman’s exploration of the atrium form evidenced in the three distinct atrium hotel forms present in the district.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. mr r–thanks so much for adding the photo of the boston city hall to this post; what do you think, folks, do y’all see a relationship? the boston city hall had quite a bit of influence in american architectural circles for a while, but perhaps not for the best—such buildings are maintenance nightmares, among other things. ‘subtlety’ isn’t one of this style’s virtues! (the yale art and architecture bldg, by paul rudolph, is also in the brutalist style—it’s on a small urban lot–downtown new haven–but it is monumentally conceived–and ‘stands out’, to say the least!)

    Liked by 1 person

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