Historic Places in the Mississippi Encyclopedia

As many of you may recall, the Mississippi Encyclopedia was published during the bicentennial year of 2017 after over a decade of work. It’s a massive book, weighing in at 9 pounds, and in the last year, it has been joined by an online version that doesn’t take up as much room on the shelf, can be more easily searched by category, and is free to the public.

One of the categories available for easy browsing online is Architecture, which contains 39 entries. It’s an eclectic list, to say the least, and I suppose reflects the priorities of the unnamed associate editor who the Encyclopedia’s “About” page indicates was in charge of suggesting entries for each field:

The first lesson of encyclopedia work is to rely on experts for suggestions about what to include and who should write those entries. In this case, those authorities included scholars who study Mississippi, many—though not all—of whom live and/or work in the state. The editors of The Mississippi Encyclopedia asked thirty leaders in their fields to serve as associate editors on the topics of agriculture, archaeology, architecture, the civil rights movement, the Civil War, contemporary issues, drama, education, ethnicity, environment, fiction, folklife, foodways, geography, government and public policy, industry and industrial workers, law, medicine, music, myths and representations, Native Americans, nonfiction, poetry, politics, the press, religion, social and economic history, sports, visual arts, and women. The associate editors suggested possible entries in those fields and in many cases wrote overview entries. Further suggestions came from numerous other sources, including authors, editors, colleagues, and friends.

Read more . . .

Typical of many encyclopedias–because most authors only write one entry–the quality of the entries can be uneven, and it’s not clear why some entries on individual buildings made the cut. For instance, the Longfellow House in Pascagoula is a nice antebellum house listed on the National Register, but it’s not a National Historic Landmark like Auburn, Dunleith, or the Grand Opera House in Meridian, which do not have entries. There are as many entries for non-Mississippi architects (Bruce Goff, Fay Jones, Frank Lloyd Wright, Calvert Vaux) as Mississippi architects (Samuel Mockbee, William Nichols, N.W. Overstreet,  A. Hays Town–who moved back to Louisiana, so could go either way, but I’m claiming him for Mississippi here so we at least have a tie).

Since the Architecture category of 39 entries doesn’t include all the entries in the Encyclopedia that touch on historic (and pre-historic) places in Mississippi, I went through my 9-pound copy of the book and made my own list and thought I would share it here. Not all of these entries actually spend much time, if any, on the physical building or structure that is their subject, but they are about places or ideas that impact the places (for instance, “Segregation”). I’ve linked each bullet point to its online entry and placed asterisks beside those entries that are “officially” in the Architecture category as listed online. Page numbers are in parentheses in case you have the physical book and would prefer to cuddle up with it and a hot beverage.

What entries do you like, which do you find puzzling, and what new entries would you like to see added (since the online edition promises additions over time)?




Categories: Architectural Research

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13 replies

  1. Wow, you’re absolutely right, what bizarre choices. Ocean Springs ornamental cottages are not a thing. The entry containing information on the Sullivan-Charnley Historic District also has some bizarre statements.

    At least the book also discussed real topics such as Prefabricated Buildings and White Flight. I look forward to reading over the entries you’ve identified with more time.

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  2. thanks so much for your ‘editing’ of the topics that will surely interest misspreservation readers.

    and, yes, strange choices–strangely disappointing, too.

    i look forward to reading your notes as well as other material from the ‘encyclopedia’ online.

    still planning to offer some thoughts on ‘glenwood’ aka ‘goat castle’.

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  3. I find it incomprehensible that the oldest documented home in the Mississippi Valley, built in 1757, the La Pointe-Krebs House, aka the Old Spanish Fort, in Pascagoula ,was not included as an individual listing.

    Thank you for all of your work in creating this list.

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  4. The entry for Franklin County notes that it’s in “the Mississippi Delta”. I was always under the impression that “the Delta” started at Vicksburg and extended north to Memphis. Further, I don’t think Franklin County is in any “delta” (which is the embouchement of a river). How can any reference work about Mississippi not know where “The Delta” is?

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  5. I haven’t read many entries but had issues with a few I read. I wonder why the section on Home Demonstration didn’t mention 4-H clubs. Similarly, the cannon ball in Rodney Presbyterian is mentioned without any indication it’s an addition after the actual event.

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  6. I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve been asked to serve on the Mississippi Encyclopedia Advisory Committee for the field of Architecture, and one of our first assignments last fall was to come up with a list of potential new entries that would begin to cover gaps in the existing publication. This was my first stab at that list, but I also just realized that while Archaeology has an overview essay, Architecture still needs one, so I’ll add that to the list. Feel free to suggest other entries or themes we need to add.

    Brick industry in Mississippi
    New Deal Building Programs
    Equalization Schools
    Desegregation of public schools
    Consolidated schools
    Modernist architecture (could be part of a broader entry on Modernism in MS)
    Architecture of slavery
    Vicksburg Campaign
    Battle and Siege of Jackson
    Mississippi Landmark program
    Mississippi Art Association
    Skyscrapers in Mississippi
    National Historic Landmarks in MS
    Historic Natchez Foundation
    La Pointe-Krebs House, Pascagoula
    Highways (currently we have Old Spanish Trail but none of the other early 20th-century highways)

    Architects
    Weeks, Levi
    Weldon Bros.
    Lindsley, Claude
    Risher, Chris
    Canizaro, Jack
    Biggs, Tom

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  7. there would seem to be many topics that could be added— glad ms b is on this committee now. a few that come to mind include; beginning of modern. architecture profession in ms in early 20th c—yes, ‘title’; should be shortened, but this essay could cover a variety of individuals, like recently mentioned frank fort, my cousin, frank gates, many others.

    ‘classic colonial’ domestic architecture—-this is the term that barber used to describe the greco-roman/colonial revival houses built all over the country in the late 19th, early 20th centuries—- this style was important in ms since it signified a resurgence of wealth (for some people) after the the lean years following the civil war.

    the melrose entry in the published work mentions a few of the other natchez houses not included as separate entries, but, some of those ‘other’ natchez houses seem to merit individual listings,–don’t know that they should fall under ‘new’ topic, above, ‘architecture of slavery. guess some would be in the ‘national historic landmarks’ topic in the new list.,

    is/was there a ‘landscape archtiecture/gardens’ section?

    is/was there a ‘religious architecture’ section?

    yes, easy to criticize the original work–which was huge undertaking abd congrats to all involved nonetheless–, but, yes, there do seem to be some significant gaps; i was unfamiliar with most of the names of the ‘experts’ who worked on the topics under the general architecture section; aslo surprised that my claiborne county book was un-mentioned in the bibliography on ‘windsor'(and might have found some statements in that entry that disagree with my continuing research on that topic).. .

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  8. Ed
    In the 1950s I lived at 3105 Pearl Street not too far from where Helen Polk lived with her parents on Hardy, which was the frontier at the time. When most of Hattiesburg’s doctors and lawyers lived downtown, Dr. Clark chose to build out there. From the Pine Crest store–the turn around point for city buses– on Hardy I could see the two lion statutes that bordered the steel gate entrance. I remember a two-story brick home. Do you know if it had any architectural significance? At about that time Dr. Vincent built a ranch-style home out there, complete with horse stables.

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  9. “Statues,” as in Bilbo’s Bronze statue.Where is it now?

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  10. mr gentry==of course, i remember my great uncle and aunt’s colonial revival home ‘way out ‘on hardy street. i will ask my cousin, carroll clark maryfield, helen polk clark berlind’s younger sister, about the house and the lions.,after dr clark’s death, my great aunt helen built a new house at the back of that lot using. many salvaged items from the hotel hattiesburg/milner hotel. that house still stands. i believe,

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    • The Milner Hotel right across the Street from the Ross Building where Dr. Richard Clark Sr. maintained his office. My aunt Mary Lois Burkett was his longtime nurse having begun employment there after graduating nursing school at Vicksburg in 1935.
      I watched firefighters atop the Milner Hotel in 1948 armed with fire axes in successfully extinguishing the fire.

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    • Ed Polk,
      Had you ever known that “way out on Hardy Street” was called Cherokee Hill? In the Dr. Richard Clark, Sr. obi, the home address is listed as “Cherokee Hill,” Hattiesburg. This may explain why Indian artifacts were found during the site preparation for a medical facility on Highway 11 last year. I saw some of them and was told that USM showed no interest when the collector called to report the trove of artifacts.
      Helen Polk Clark Berlind is listed as a survivor in her mother’s Clarion-Ledger obit of 20APR2000. She perished in that plane collision over NYC in the 1960s.

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