Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way
Walnut Room? This way, please.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Lyric, formerly the Comus Theatre and T A Jenkins

The Lyric was built in 1912 by R. F. Goodlett.  It was a rather plain brick building with a simple portico and small sign, and designed as a vaudeville theatre.  The original name was the Comus Theatre.  An article in the Daughters of the American Revolution magazine mentions a celebration of Flag Day in the Comus.

It was acquired by the Malco movie chain in the 30s, renovated to its current Art Deco appearance with marquee, and renamed the Lyric.  It was one of the few buildings that survived the 1936 Tupelo tornado, and was used as a temporary mortuary. 

The Lyric was headed for demolition in 1984 when it was saved by the Tupelo Community Theater, who continue to hold live performances in the theater.  Note the guitar art on the corner of the street?  I began to spot them all over the city--Elvis tributes.
On the opposite side of the courthouse stands this building.  I am unable to locate any information about the building or its original use, but the stone at the top of the building reads "T. A. Jenkins 1928."  I can't tell if the bottom floor was renovated to include the windows/doors, or if it perhaps originally was some other type of entrance.  Not very visible in the photo due to the SUV, the center opening is a showcase window with a recessed door.
Alas, another unsolved mystery that I will most likely be unable to resolve.  Maybe when I retire, I can just go around finding out about buildings...oh, wait, by then, no one will still be alive who knows anything about them--I'd better not put it off.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spain House in Tupelo

The Spain House in Tupelo was in the news frequently the last couple of years, due to the fact that it had been purchased by the Calvary Baptist Church and they wanted to demolish the historic structure.  (Links to news articles and more specific information is available over on the MissPres blog--just click on the blog to the right and type Spain House in the search box).  At least part of the reasons for demolition allegedly had to do with the need for repairs to the house that would be expensive, and the desire to use the property for other reasons.  As long as I was "in the neighborhood" yesterday, I thought I would finally  lay eyes on the property.
I don't know if this is actually where a crime has occurred, or it's just the tape the city had handy to reinforce the no trespassing sign, but I could not get closer than the sidewalk without fear of an intimate view of the Tupelo jail.  While I might be inclined to fudge in a rural area (where all I want is a picture) I am generally not one to bend the rules in a highly visible and populated urban location, so I kept my distance from the signs.
I wanted to see how much evidence there was of structural damage, and noted little on the exterior that was visible.  I do know that there are things that are not visible to the eye, but nonetheless, I did not notice anything glaring.  I must say, that there are worse areas on the house in which I currently live, and the repair of those is relatively easy and so far, inexpensive.  I do love the beautiful iron detail on older homes.  These architectural pieces have become a high-dollar criminal business in New Orleans these days as people loot damaged and unoccupied houses remaining from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Still, the home seems quite beautiful and certainly one that does not appear to need to be demolished. 
 There was only one obviously visible area of damage in the rear of the house.  While I was unable to see inside, I would assume it would have had to have been a lot of damage to justify demolishing such a beautiful and regionally historical building.  The October 6, 2010 city council meeting minutes do say "there's a lot of damage" and that the church should be given the "green light" to demolish the house, and that further assumption of liability on the part of the city was unacceptable.  I have searched diligently and cannot seem to find an actual disposition, but it seems as if the city of Tupelo decided not to move ahead with plans to purchase and relocate the structure and that it is only a matter of time until this house will be a parking lot or another megachurch building.
Maybe sometimes things do have a happy ending, and a group of people who want to save something worth saving can sometimes prevail over money and power.  At least some of the time, I'd like to think that happens.  It does not seem to be the case this time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lee County Courthouse, Tupelo: M. T. Lewman & Co.

There is nothing like a post over at MissPres to get me in research mode.  This morning's post was about the Lewman & Co, and included a list of buildings by the company.  Included was the Lee County Courthouse in Tupelo, and as luck would have it, I had to go to Tupelo today to work on the needs assessment for our gerontology grant.  Add the camera to all the other equipment that I needed!
The building was constructed in 1904 in the Classical Revival style, of stone and copper--I assume the copper was the roof of the dome because that is the only copper I could see--or at least, it appears to be copper.  Where is the green?  Does Tupelo keep its buildings cleaner than other cities?  
I walked the square around the courthouse in the 78 degree (yes, 78 degrees in February) temperature.  I confess, as much as I love living on my little Taylor hillside and how convenient it is to get to work, Tupelo made me miss being in a city.  I suppose life always has its trade-offs.
A storm was moving in as I was leaving, and I feared I had dallied too long and still had some other sites to photograph.  However, fortune was with me again and I made it home without getting caught in the thunderstorm.  I can hear the storm approaching now, though, and the sound of the wind in the trees is both relaxing and foreboding.  Spring time is coming.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mississippi Architects Series: J M Spain

Administration Building, Blue Mountain College.
J. M. Spain, Jackson


Reading MissPres always inspires me to think about new road trips.  Yesterday started a new series about Mississippi architects and some of the education buildings they designed.  I began planning to at least shoot the buildings on the Ole Miss campus, and possibly some of the others that are close by.

I made a visit to Blue Mountain College in the summer of 09 when I spotted it up on the hill as I was driving to Corinth.  That trip was my first visit to that part of the state, so it was like a candy store in terms of new buildings to see, and Blue Mountain was the gold mine.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Snow Day and More Adventures of the Nightmare on Taylor Hill


We got the word just before noon that the university would close due to the hazardous weather coming in.  By the time I could get things rounded up and head home, the snow was so thick that visibility was only a few cars in front of me.  I hustled out to fill the bird feeders quickly, and as usual, they have been flocking to it ever since.  I'll have to fill again before the light goes--it's hard on my little feathered friends this time of year.

I know I have a gazillion pictures of cardinals at the feeder, but it just never ceases to awe me to see a tree full of red birds right outside of my window.  I confess to going to the window several times in an hour just to look at them, awed by their color, their interactions, and their sheer numbers.  We have about 3 inches of snow already since it began at noon, with predictions of up to 7 inches.  It seems like we just did this last week...

Yesterday was fairly pleasant here (near 50) and we finally were able to get someone out to work on the septic tank.  Family and friends (and possibly regular readers, given how many posts I have had about this house now) know that "of course" it was one more thing our favorite contractor did...or should I say, didn't do?  Let's just suffice it to say if you are buying a house where someone says he is putting in a French drain, you should ascertain if he knows how.  All the water from the runoff due to an incorrect and unfinished French drain is pooling on top of the septic tank, leaking into it.  Couple that with normal use, the saturated soil from all the recent rain and snow, and the fact that the soil is full of clay and does not drain well anyway, and you know the outcome of this story.  

On top of that, WtheWB piled all the old concrete from taking out the old septic tank back in the hole on top of the new septic tank!  So, yes, they had to dig out all the old concrete to get to the lid of the new tank.  You just have to wonder why someone like that thought he should go into the housing business.  The capable and efficient service we called removed it and suggested it not be piled back into the hole on top of the tank.  I have personally never installed a septic tank, but I am reasonably certain that I would know not to fill the hole with concrete, understanding one must be able to get to a septic tank at least every 3-4 years.  Enough said (though I sometimes think I will never be able to say enough about this individual and the grief he has caused).  I actually thought this one was pretty mild compared to building a shower by directly depositing mortar onto a wooden floor with no shower pan or liner; the service man yesterday looked at me aghast when I shared that one with him, and explained how after rebuilding one shower, we are currently in the midst of rebuilding the second bathroom for similar reasons.

So, here we are again in the snow and cold of a freak winter blizzard down South, wondering "what was I thinking?" when we decided to move.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Miller Hall


Even though this building is right behind my office, the first I heard of its proposed demolition was on the MissPres news round-up last week.  There's not much news to be had at the moment--either about its history, or the planned demolition and replacement.  The building's dedication program was held 1959 according to the University archives, and the building opened in 1960 to house the football players.

The building is now used for offices and administration of the housing program accorded to the Daily Mississippian (02/02/11).  "With the building being 50 years old, it is past its useful life," according to Ian Banner, the director of the Department of Facilities Planning.  Banner cites the building's central location on campus as the reason for it being chosen for the most appropriate site on campus for the proposed new 720-student residential building proposed to take its place.  The enrollment at Ole Miss has skyrocketed in the past year, and predicted to continue to grow--and we are indeed out of housing space as well as classroom space.


Approval to proceed with plans for demolition is pending with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Institutions of Higher Learning.  Some type of work is occurring in the building at the moment, as there were workers in the building today, and there is equipment and what appears to be debris outside the front entry, along with the ubiquitous blue porta-potties that appear all over campus these days.

I must say that there is nothing particularly impressive about the building from my eye, other than I do like the large portico at the entry and the double expanse of glass on both sides of the lobby.  An identical wall/door is directly opposite this front entry.
I'm not sure at what point the grills on the lower windows were installed--if it was after the building was shifted to offices, or if they have always been there.  Perhaps to keep those rowdy and adventure-loving football players from the 60s in their rooms at night?  Wright Thompson's essay on Ghosts of Mississippi refers to Miller Hall and the night of the 1962 riot on campus.

Today, I sat across the table from the parents of an African American student in one of my classes during the induction ceremony for the Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society.  The father commented that the campus had changed much since the 70s.  I think he was referring to more than just how it looks.