Two Mississippi health clinics funded under the Hill-Burton program were published in the October 1951 issue of Architectural Record, a high honor for our state, which is still often overlooked in the architectural world. The two-page spread focused attention on the elegant Mid-Mod renderings and the blueprint floorplans of the Bolivar and Tallahatchie County clinics, with a short description of each design.
TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY HEALTH CENTER
E. L. Malvaney, Architect
Another health center in Mississippi’s program for extending its health improvement work in rural communities, this one makes a special point of separating traffic, not just by races, but also by activities. The office activities are grouped at one one end, with a separate entrance. And the assembly or demonstration room has an isolated location with front entrance so that lecture groups need not get tangled up in maternity or V.D. visitors. While clinic hours are usually set so as to keep traffic groups divided, it is not possible to stagger hours completely. A nice feature of this plan is the unit of X-ray, examination room and clinic room with connecting doors, a device which also helps to avoid confusion in the corridors in busy hours.
Although the racial landscape isn’t clearly marked on this or the Bolivar floorplan, I’m guessing that here in Charleston, the waiting room on the right of the entrance hall was for African Americans, since it has one restroom as opposed to the two in the waiting room at the rear.
The MDAH Historic Resources Database doesn’t contain a record of this building; neither does it have a record on Preston Waldrop, whose signature is on the rendering above. Looking on Google maps for the Tallahatchie County Health Center, I find this building on a corner one block off of the courthouse square–a site that would make sense for a county health center in the 1950s, but it looks fairly new and not nearly as stylish as Malvaney’s building above. Was Malvaney’s building on this site and replaced by this one? Or was it somewhere else that isn’t jumping out at me on the aerials and maybe it’s still standing? Or . . . since this is just a rendering, not a photo, could it be that this building was never built?
BOLIVAR COUNTY HEALTH CENTER
N.W. Overstreet & Associates, Architects–Engineers
Here is a slightly larger health center, also for a generally rural locality. It has all of the customary favilities of the preceding example, though here somewhat larger departments are contemplated, plys a few additional activites. The typical routines and clinics have the first floor; the additional activities, not producing so much traffic, are housed in a partial second story. Child guidance here is a separate department, as is also health education, with the addition of an office for cancer control, also a large laboratory.
In contrast to our mystery Charleston building, this Bolivar clinic is still alive and well, looking quite stylish in its all its MidModishness. Andrew Morang of the blog Urban Decay sent this to me just at the right moment as I was looking at this Architectural Record article, and notice too that without any knowledge of the rendering, his angle is dead-on. Congratulations to Bolivar County for keeping this beautiful modernist building going and looking great!
More clinics, more MidMod . . .