The trench under the merry-go-round

The trench under the merry-go-round

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cleveland Community School in Kemper County

My second stop on the road to Choctaw was at Zama Consolidated School, with extant buildings including the 1938 gymnasium, c. 1930 teacher's house, and 1949 Edgar Lucian Malvaney designed school.  Check out the post on Preservation in Mississippi for that story.
 The return trip enabled me to make a few stops as well, including this former school building in the Cleveland community, Kemper County, not far from DeKalb.  This was my first opportunity to venture this direction in the state of Mississippi, so I had an eye-candy day, along with a few bouts of depression at some of the decay and obvious lack of opportunities in areas.

The only extant buildings of the Cleveland school, according to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory, are the administration building, 1933, and one of the two teachers' houses.  No cornerstone was visible on the building, but photographs from the National Youth Administration 1937-1939 photograph album show the original building and the classroom annex, constructed by the NYA in 1937-38.
WP 4800, App # 125 (1937-38) Cleveland Vocational School Annex, Kemper County.  Concrete block classroom added to existing building. NYA. 1-F2-35. 1938.  Retrieved from
Retrieved from
Retrieved from
Retrieved from
 I originally thought the classroom annex was the above pictured addition, but I think it might be possible they added both of the ells as classrooms.  It is also possible the classrooms were added to the rear of the building, but I could not access that area due to a chain link fence.  The building is located on the North side of Hwy.16, between Philadelphia and DeKalb.
In addition, the complex included 2 teachers houses, one of which is still extant, a vocational building, and a home economics building.  The remaining building with its National Youth Administration additions is in use as a vocational training center.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Road trip: First stop Carmack

Nothing I love more than a fall road trip, especially when I had the luxury of a little more time to get there, and get home again.  Wednesday was a beautiful sunny fall day, and I had taken time before hand to plot out the New Deal or possible New Deal locations on one route down, and an alternate route home.
In the "Kosciusko vicinity" section of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory, I noted the listing of the Carmack School, built 1938, but no other available information.  Carmack community was on the road from Kosciusko to Philadelphia, so there was not even a need to make a detour to locate it.
Can you feel my elation when I spotted the cornerstone immediately?  Newspaper archives so far have not turned up any mention of the construction of the school, but that little concrete jewel on the corner is all I needed to see.  The front of the building has been re-sided (with vinyl siding, unfortunately), and thank goodness they had the awareness to leave the cornerstone visible, or evidence of this building's construction could have been obscured.
The building is undergoing renovation, and again unfortunately, the large windows are being replaced, as those on the front already have been.  My guess is the back of the building will shortly wear that vinyl siding also.
The base of an old see-saw remains firmly rooted, though the boards are long since removed.  Who remembers "see-saw injuries" from your childhood?  One of our favorites was to walk the see-saw from end to end.  The deeply worn rut under the merry-go-round gives evidence of how long it was used.  Even the pine straw has not yet been able to fully obliterate the evidence of all those little feet running in circles, or dragging in the dirt when you were trying to stop, or in some cases, thwart the efforts of your classmates to get up to speed!
During the early part of the century, it was also common to construct teachers' houses next door to the school, particularly in the rural areas. MDAH database gives no additional information about the teacher's house located in the Carmack community, but the National Youth Administration constructed many teachers' houses next to the rural school buildings they constructed. The Series 2018 National Youth Administration Work Projects Photograph Album, 1937-1939 provides pictures and community identification on a number of them.

 It was hard to resist taking a spin and dragging my feet, but I thought perhaps it was best not to tempt fate (and my knees and hips) in the middle of nowhere...I mean, in the middle of Carmack.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Family History: R J Timmons

 Back in the summer when Sis and I went up to the Elbert cemetery, we wandered around the family plots.  Though many of the names I know, and knew all the aunts and uncles who were Mama's family, I did not recall who R J Timmons, wife of J S Timmons was.  Since she died in 1925, that is not unusual I guess.
 R J was Rhoda Jane Smith, and she was the second wife of James Samuel Timmons.  James Samuel was Mama's grandfather.  His son with his first wife, Mary Susan Brogdon, was Mama's father--Pinkney Perry Timmons.  Daddy Pink died in 1934 so I never knew him, although I have heard many stories about him, and did know Mama's mother, Grandmother Timmons.  Rhoda Jane and James Samuel had two daughters, whose names I never recall hearing anyone talk about.  What amazes me is that Rhoda Jane was only 68 when she died, and yet she appears to be much older than that in the picture.

Mary Susan was from Young County, so James Samuel would have met her after he moved from Georgia to the Young County and Throckmorton County area.  Rhoda Jane was from Ballground, Cherokee County, Georgia, so at some point James Samuel returned to his family's home in Georgia to find his second wife.  No doubt, he needed a mother for his nine children.  Perhaps that, and having borne two more of her own, had something to do with Rhoda Jane dying at an early age and looking like she was 20 years older than she was.  The "baby" would have been 4 when James Samuel married Rhoda Jane, and the oldest two were 19 and 18.  Most likely, she only had to mother the ones who were 4, 7, 8, 10, and 13.  Daddy Pink would have been 15, and 4 years later, he married Clara McBrayer.  Mama was their first child.
 As a child wandering the Elbert cemetery when Mama would go to tend the graves, I was always fascinated by the ones with the shells embedded in the concrete.  There were quite a few of them, although most of them now resemble Rhoda Jane's in that the shells are broken.  If you think about it, those shells have been on this grave for 89 years, so in that regard, I suppose they have held up fairly well.
James Samuel died 11 years after Rhoda Jane, at the age of 88, when my mother was 9 years old, and two years after Daddy Pink's death.  Mother often talked about Daddy Pink, but I don't ever recall hearing her speak of her great grandfather James Samuel.  I had always heard the story of the father going to Georgia to find a mother for his children, and bringing her back to South Bend, Texas, but there was no connection in my head as to who that father was.  Now, I know they were speaking of James Samuel, and that it was his farm in South Bend.  My mother has the lock he kept on his corn crib to keep the local Native Americans from stealing his corn--you know, after we stole their land.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

New Albany New Deal Post Office and Milking Time Mural

 The 1936 Colonial Revival post office in New Albany was constructed through the Treasury department, under Louis A. Simon, Supervising Architect of the Treasury (MDAH Historic Resources Inventory).  The construction company was Blair, Algernon of Montgomery, Alabama, who built 9 post offices in Mississippi.
 Joan Embree, (1996 National Register of Historic Places nomination form) described the "classical cupola"...
" entry doors, but in the original surround with fanlight transom, in-antis Doric columns supporting the hooded architrave."
 The interior of the building, which is currently in use as the Welcome Center and Development Association, retained original features such as the marble wainscoting, wooden vestibule entry,
 and former service window,
original postal boxes and writing counters.
 Robert Cleaver Purdy's mural, "Milking Time," was completed and installed in 1939. 
 The local Armour Creamery was a vital part of the economic scene during that time, and the building is still extant, though not in use.  The role of farming and dairying in New Albany is thought to have influenced Purdy's mural.
New Albany represents another fine example of a town preserving its historic architecture, including the buildings constructed through the New Deal administration programs.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lexington Historic District: Holmes County Bank and other Lexington History

The Lexington courthouse square is laid out in the "Four-block square" plan as shown in Price, Edward T. "The Central Courthouse Square in the American County Seat." Common Places: Readings in American Vernacular Architecture. (Upton, Dell, and John Michael Vlach, eds. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press), p. 125. This configuration has four streets bounding the square itself with four more streets bisecting the blocks and intersecting with the center portion of the square on all four sides the courthouse itself is placed on axis with the streets that are centered on the square. This creates rectangular, rather than square, city blocks with short sides facing the square and long sides leading away from the square. (Baughn, J. V. O., 2000, Nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places, "Lexington Historic District")
When I began this post, my intentions were solely on the architecture.  I had no intention of going to Lexington that day, it just happened to be between me and Greenwood, my destination.  However, when I drove into town and saw the courthouse looming in the distance, I knew I would be making a stop.
c.1900 former Holmes County Bank
The bank building dates to around 1900, but the Holmes County Bank only dates to 1932 according to the current website.  Morris Lewis immigrated to the US from Poland in 1882 when he was nine.  He moved to Lexington, Mississippi at the age of 17, and in 1896, organized the Lewis Grocery Company (The Delta Democrat-Times, 27 December 1957, p. 1).  He organized the Merchants and Farmers Bank and Trust Co. in Lexington, would became the Holmes County Bank and Trust Co.

The Holmes County Bank and Trust Co. was one of the targets of the civil rights activism in Mississippi.  Bea Jenkins of Lexington was the housekeeper for the president of the Holmes County Bank at that time (Tanzman, H. 2000. An oral history with Bea Jenkins. Civil Rights Documentation Project).  

I marched around that bank, too.  We did.  We marched around that, and someone there said, 'Bea, arent' you afraid to march around?' Said, "That's the man that you work for.'
And I told them it didn't make any difference because we wanted--I said, 'People, some blacks, have they money there, too.'  And they didn't have any black people working there as employees.  And I said, 'And I don't see any difference.  If he's not hiring any blacks, why not march against him, too?'  So, I did.  And go back into their home the next day and work.

Read the rest of the oral history with Bea Jenkins.
Lexington made history for another reason, too--taking on the tobacco industry

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Holmes County Jail

Mississippi architects N. W. Overstreet and A. H. Town of Jackson designed this 1936 Art Moderne jail in Lexington.  A PWA project, it cost $24,528, and $10,000 of it was funded from the PWA.  Holmes County erected a new jail facility in 1999-2000.  What's in store for this building I wonder?  It is both historic (a designated Mississippi landmark) and stunning in the simple design.  Maybe I could just renovate it and move in, living in half, and operating my research facility in the other half.  I will have to study on that possibility.  I wonder what they would charge me for rent?

Sources: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory; Mississippi Landmarks; "New correctional facility will replace 63-year-old county jail" (June 3, 1999). Holmes County Herald, 41(22). p. 1.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Knowledge, Citizenship, Industry: It's Back to School

 A few weeks ago, I was over in New Albany to see a friend and she took me around to some of the historic school buildings in the area.  She recalled her mother saying something about a WPA gym built there during the depression, but we could not locate it.  The relief panel that was formerly on the front of the high school building has been moved to the back of this building, where it sits in the shadows.  The reliefs remind me somewhat of those at Senatobia High School--where they still proudly adorn the front of the building.
 Edgar L. Malvaney designed the New Albany High School in 1936.  Use of the concrete bas reliefs were common during the period, as the Great Depression necessitated the use of simpler, less expensive materials in building construction and ornamentation.
 Interesting way to illustrate citizenship?  The stern and austere judge seated above the citizens who essentially have no face or body?  Citizenship as obedience and subservience?  Because reliefs were often stylized, it may have just been a standard format, but I tend to see the symbolism in everything.  Our schools were one of the institutions used to socialize us to the roles of citizen, and it would have reflected the belief that obedience is one of the more important qualities in a citizen.  Of course, obedience to an immoral or unjust law is not a trait that I value, and citizenship should challenge those injustices and set them right again.  It is just that it is a hard thing to do.
 Bas relief can be designed by carving into the stone or wood, creating a raised appearance around the carved section, or precast from molds.  Molds to cast pieces required very simple designs or the concrete or other material could get caught in intricate designs that allowed the material to gather in an undercut and ruin the design (Relief in clay mold making and mold-making and casting, Vicki Lynn Wilson at Marylhurst College).
Still, it seems not fitting for the great pieces of art to be hidden at the back of a building, seen by few people.  In fact, we discovered them only accidentally.  My friend said she wanted to show me the "stones" from the old high school--I was expecting rocks!--but they were not in front of the middle school that occupies the site of the old school.  As we drove around the corner to turn around, she exclaimed "there they are!"  Hidden behind the arcade walkway, at the back of the building, in the shadows.  Maybe that is symbolic of what we have done with knowledge, citizenship, and industry.  Perhaps we only find these things, develop these abilities, and use these skills if we seek them in the unlikely places.