Working Under Cover of Weekend, Forrest County Demos Pat Harrison Building

Just a rule of thumb for life, whenever government starts working on Friday afternoon, somethin fishy is probably going on (see Moss Point Water Works). In a burst of energy last Friday afternoon, Forrest County decided to demolish the former Pat Harrison Waterway District Building, a beautiful modernist building designed in 1966 by Landry & Matthes and boasting an amazing tile mosaic facade. My sources indicate that the county had received neither a city demolition permit nor a demolition permit from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History as required under the Mississippi Antiquities Law.

Pat Harrison Waterway Office, photo June 22, 2010 by Jennifer Baughn, MDAH

From the comments in the Remember When Hattiesburg Facebook group, many Hattiesburgers are pretty ticked about losing this iconic structure.



Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Hattiesburg

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24 replies

  1. Unbelievable. One of my favorite buildings in the state. This is a tragedy. That building was like a piece of folk art.

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  2. incredibly sad—ed from hattiesburg! not a good way to wake up today! yes, happens all over, all the time–!

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  3. What? Fabulous building … a fine, high quality, regional modernist classic. Can this be stopped? Richard Becherer

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  4. Now Senator Harrison must rolling in his grave, much like Senator Bilbo. Soon, Governor Paul B. Johnson will join them when the Paul B. Johnson Memorial Highway marker is carted off to some unknown location. I visited the site last Sunday where the highway marker lies on the ground. I observed automobile tracks circling the marker in the tall grass surrounding it. The tracks are recent. I e-mailed Senator Billy Hudson but never received a reply.
    The WWII Camp Shelby barracks building at the corner of 28th avenue South and Hardy street is in the process of being demolished…now resembling a two-story tar paper shack.

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  5. Who-EVER is responsible for this travesty has NO RIGHT to be working as “public servants.” I am literally EMBARRASSED that wiser heads (are there any in our local government) allowed this to happen. SHAME ON YOU, Hattiesburg!

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  6. NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  7. I watched in complete shock. I make mosaics and have always been inspired by such an enormous effort. The mosaic should have been saved if nothing else.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A shameful loss. Too bad they can’t be required to rebuild it!

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  9. What was done to try to preserve the mosaic? Is there a paper trail? Demolition on weekend to escape notice and at increased expense?

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  10. All the government wants to do is destroy beautiful things.

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  11. The penalty for violating the Mississippi Antiquities Law is woefully inadequate. For public officials (such as Supervisors) to do so knowingly, it should include removal from office and a lifetime ban.

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  12. I saw the demolished structure Monday morning. I suspected then that it had to do with the installation of the fast-track traffic signal lights that I’ve observed from the entrance to the South gate of Camp Shelby and north along 49 to the intersection at Rawls Springs road. Emergency vehicles arriving at Forrest General enter 100 feet from the Pat Harrison Building. The intersection at Forrest General will probably look a lot like the Camp Shelby South Gate and the newest work-in-progress Industrial Park entrance.

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    • Nope….Mamie St entrance is going away. New signals at new intersections on 49 at Camp/O’FARRELL and by the water tower

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      • That Mamie street intersection was always a difficult intersection to negotiate onto and from 49. Does that now mean that the emergency entrance to FGH from 49 will be at the water tower? Now I know why the new Mediterranean Restaurant bought the old location at Mamie Street after all the other businesses that have failed there for the past ten plus years. Someone had inside information?

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    • What a weird, long statement that never really addresses who made the decision to demolish the building ON THE WEEKEND and how that decision was made or why the building had to be demolished. Reading Sup. Chris Bowen’s statement made me feel maybe the building demolished itself. Very passive. “I feel your pain”? Weird.

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      • Very weird. and pitiful. So,.. let me distill this from Mr. Bowen. The mosaic mural was missing oh, 1% of the tile (which could easily have been repaired), and this world needs more asphalt. Move along ye lovers of beauty. Shame on him.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Since MDAH did I not issue permits for destruction. Now what will MDAH do? MDAH wanted to take Bureau of Buildings to court for removing rotten interior wood from one of the old buildings at Oakley without a permit. I want to keep up with this.

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  14. Mississippi has now lost one of its best Mid-Century Modern buildings due to one of those two natural enemies of great architecture that Richard Nickel warned historic preservationists about: stupid men. Mid-Century Modern architecture is not my favorite style (it has grown on me a little over the years), but this building was a stunning expression of that era’s optimism. It was the type of building that could only be envisioned on a sunny day; gray skies just clashed with its whole ethos.

    People today, particularly conservative public officials, like to bandy about the term “law and order” to show how tough and virtuous they are (and why we should vote for them). Now what is good for the goose is good for the gander; so, it is time to make sure that the public officials who did this are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. part of the deal so FGH could build on it. watch what I’m tellin’ ya

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