Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Frank P Gates, Architect: University High School

University High School, on the Ole Miss Campus
University High School was a demonstration high school, built for the use by community, but for the purpose of training teachers.  Student teachers worked in the high school, which was built "across the railroad track" in order to be more accessible to the students.  It was actually on the edge of the campus at that time.

Faculty from the university also taught as well as supervised student teachers.  When the number of teachers needing training and placement exceeded the capacity of the UHS, students had to be sent to other schools.  From there, it was only a matter of time before Oxford built its own high school, Oxford High School, in its current location.

A one-story wing was added in the late 50s, but only a few years later, the school would no longer be needed, and would be used to house the School of Education until they relocated to Guyton Hall and the buildings were renovated for the music department.
The original part of the building is to the left; the right side of the photograph is the addition of an entry way that was included in the renovation completed last year.  A new entry was added at each end of the building.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Frank P Gates, architect: Bondurant Graduate School

Bondurant Graduate School, constructed in 1929, was named after Dean Alexander Bondurant.  It was home to the graduate dean's office for many years, and currently houses the departments of English and Modern Languages.  Notice the similarity in design with Farley Hall pictured below (formerly Lamar Law Building) also designed by Gates during the same time period.

The window style and arch over doorways at Bondurant is pictured above, and the two pictures below are the arch over doorways and the window style at Lamar.  While there are distinct differences, they also share similarities.
Bondurant still bears the designation Graduate School at the rear entrance.  Notice the grill work on the windows, and then the same design on the windows (and around the portico) of Lamar Hall, pictured below.

A building on each side of Bondurant is joined by a covered walk.
Bondurant still bears the plaque designating graduate school, and Gates' name.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Architect Frank P Gates: The Lamar Hall Law School, now Farley Hall

Architect Frank P. Gates designed three buildings for the Ole Miss campus in 1929.  First in the series of posts is the Lamar law building, currently known as Farley Hall and home to the School of Journalism.

As the newly constructed law school in 1929, allowing the school to move from Ventress Hall, it contained an auditorium and courts, as well as classroom space.  It was also home to the Mississippi Law Journal.
Note the dormers, the design of the columns and the window over the door:  We will look at these again in comparing another Gates building on campus.

Also to be noted, the iron grill work present on this building will be replicated on a later building by Gates.
And, finally, the style of the arch over the door and the center finial will also show up in a similar fashion.

The Law School was housed in this building until 1978 when it moved into its new building: a tan concrete structure resembling a glass and concrete bunker, and matching nothing else on the campus--except maybe the glass and concrete bunker that is the student union building.  The law center moved to the new Khayat Law Building in January and the renovation of the old law center is pending.  It will be interesting to see what the building will look like when complete.  There are many speculations as to whether they will give it a facade more in keeping with the other buildings on campus, but that remains to be seen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Mystery Solved: P J Krouse, architect for Bobo Senior High School in Clarksdale

Back in the summer, I posted about a school in Clarksdale.  I could not find a sign on the building to determine what school it was.  While getting ready to start a new scavenger hunt on the Mississippi education buildings identified by Preservation in Mississippi, I had the epiphany this morning.  Could the Krouse designed high school in Clarksdale be my unidentified building?

This building was located at the corner of School and Riverside.  Bobo Senior High School as designed by Krouse was located at 131 School Street, on the corner of Riverside Boulevard.  Check.

The Historic Places Database indicated the property included a cemetery.  Family name on headstones: Bobo. Check.
HP also refers to the building as Gothic Revial in architecture style.  Here is where my lack of knowledge about architecture styles emerges.  Is this building Gothic Revival?  I looked up images of Gothic Revival, and it resembles some pictures that were identified as this style, but did not look like others.  Is there a variety of design variation permitted in this style?

The Bobo Senior High Building was listed on the national register of historic places in 2008 according to the Clarksdale school district newsletter, and they were discussing what to do with the building.  I have to assume this must be one and the same building.  At least as of last summer, nothing else had been done with the building.  So, has the mystery been solved, or not?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Road Trip: Research at the Mississippi Department of Archives & History

You would think after a road trip encompassing the 5 hours it takes to get to/from Jackson, not to mention all the wonderful buildings in downtown Jackson, that I would have a better picture than this to show for it.  Please note, I was not drinking while at the MDAH nor during the course of this road trip.  The story on the bottle of wine is at the end of the post.

I went to Jackson to visit the William F. Winter Archives and History Building at MDAH to research original documents pertaining to teachers at the Poplar Hill School in Fayette, Jefferson County from 1880-1953.  Yesterday was a perfect day for a road trip, given it was in the 70s, clear and sunny.

Entering the building was a startling experience: it is large, almost empty area with a receptionist.  I obtained a patron research card and proceeded through security measures that are more rigorous than going to the airport these days, though far less annoying.  First swipe got me through the turnstile, where I stashed my camera and bag in a locker.  Nothing is allowed in the research rooms except a pad, laptop, and pencil. Through the next door and I had to sign in and get my card swiped again.  I explained my purpose: I am looking for copies of teaching licenses for teachers at the Poplar Hill School from the late 1800s through the 50s.  She called a librarian to help me, and while waiting on him, showed me how to load money onto my patron card in order to make copies of records.

The librarian showed me how to use the search database and we located the information I needed, and then he showed me how to request it.  The request sent an electronic call number over to the reference desk where they proceeded to call for the boxes to be brought up from record storage in the basement.

Another security checkpoint: this time, Capitol Police, complete with sidearm and badge, swiped my card and noted my entrance into the archive room.  I had a seat at one of the tables and waited for my first box.  You can only have one box at a time at your desk, and you have to sign each one out, and then when you return it, they log the return back in.  Archives are serious business, and when one thinks about what would be lost with the loss of those records, it is comforting to know there are people and procedures still dedicated to preserving history.

The process was not really what I was expecting; I've never done research on original documents before.  One must comb through pages and pages (and pages, and pages) and read lists of names, dates, etc., attempting to locate the information for which one is searching.  Two hours into the process, and I had located two names of the 19 on my list.  Copy that page.

By then, it was time to meet Frank and EL for lunch.  I had to repeat the process in reverse: check out with the police officer, check out with the reading room librarian, retrieve my belongings, and swipe out of the turnstile.  We walked a block or so to eat lunch at a nearby spot--which had the most incredible potato salad and pimento cheese, and talk photography, preservation, music, and history for our first meeting outside of virtual life.  What was really interesting to me (besides the conversation, that is) is how much they both seemed so very much like who they are online.

Back to the archive room, and another 3 hours of pouring over ledger sheets and I had amassed a grand total of 3 more names!  I gained an immense appreciation for historical research--it is very different from the types of research that I have done in the past.  I'm up to 1946 finally, just because there were not that many teachers licensed until the late 30s.

The earliest records were fairly haphazard in that names were just recorded by dates the request and funds were received, so I had to read every name on every page.  Those records, however, at least identified both the town and the county as well as the date, so it was easier to confirm I had the correct person.  Later records began to divide the names by alphabet, so I could at least avoid reading A-G if I was looking for someone named H.  Unfortunately, the county name was not always listed.  I still had to read all of the H names, though, as they were still entered as the request was logged.  In those days of handwritten entries (and all done in cursive) there was really no way to put them in any kind of order other than date received.  The handwriting was interesting as well, some being quite beautiful and clear, and others being somewhat difficult to read.

I really wanted to get out of downtown Jackson prior to 5, so I checked in my box after noting how far I had completed, did the reverse security checkout, including let them look at my notes and copies to confirm I had not removed any archives, secured my belongings again, and headed out.  I had planned to  swing by the capitol and take a few pictures, but there was no nearby parking and I was unwilling to delay much due to it nearing 5.  I drove on up State street to Fortification, planning to stop by Katz Wine Cellar.

I turned right, but after driving a block or so, thought I must have misremembered and that I should have turned left.  Nope...a bit of driving in the opposite direction and I start encountering vacant buildings and its clear that now I am really going the wrong way.  After finally being able to turn around, and head back the opposite direction again, I was amusing myself thinking it was the only time I can remember when going "right" was really was where I needed to be.

Katz carries several of the really good South African wines available in the US, including one of my favorites, Warwick Three Cape Ladies.  I cannot pass up the opportunity when I am in Jackson, 5 o'clock traffic or not.  I still made it out of Jackson with no traffic tie-ups, and the rest of the trip home was fairly routine other than passing a wreck and a forest fire.  I even made it home before dark, thanks to our BFF Daylight Savings Time, and shortly after, my son arrived with the burgers.  Perfect timing!

I'll be back in Jackson in a couple of weeks to try to finish up the searches; now that I have the hang of it, I hope it goes faster.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Demolition of Miller Hall

A few weeks ago I posted about the planned demolition of Miller Hall on the University of Mississippi campus.  I felt very smart when yesterday at lunch, one of my colleagues asked, "Why are they tearing down Miller Hall?" and I had the answer.  No one seemed all that upset about the demolition of the building, but there was concern over having ripped out all the trees and shrubs that had been part of the area.  Perhaps a gigantic 720-resident facility will take up much more space and it will need all the space, but it did seem a loss that the trees are no longer there.

Following that conversation, I mentioned the Poplar Hill School in Fayette, and some volunteer work that I am about to do for them.  Once again, I felt pretty smart when they asked how I learned about that and I responded "I follow the Preservation in Mississippi blog."  That led to the explanation of the efforts to save the Poplar Hill School, as well as a general discussion of preserving historic buildings, including the one in which we are housed, Longstreet, and Hill Hall and Vardamon Hall, our next door neighbors. It is rather interesting that all 3 buildings (which are connected by walkways on either side) were built at the same time, and yet the renovation of Longstreet was a total remodel, while the renovation of Hill maintained original woodwork, paint and tile colors and replication, and had to keep all historical items in tact (original doors, stair railings, cabinetry, etc.)  Vardamon--home to the William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation--is in dire need of restoration, although there is no word on when that might come.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mount Gilead Baptist Church: Architect W A Rayfield

I became interested in locating work about African American architect W. A. Rayfield while on a scavenger hunt for information about Mound Bayou College.  Rayfield graduated from Howard University in 1896 and from Columbia University in 1899, with his degree in architecture.  He taught for 10 years at Tuskegee before moving to Birmingham in 1908 to begin his practice.  He designed thousands of buildings in the US, but most are in the southeastern region.  He designed the Trinity Building in South Africa, although I cannot locate any additional information about that building either.

While reviewing the list of the many buildings attributed to Mr. Rayfield, I noted the Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.  Several times a month for 7 years, I drove past this building in downtown Ft. Worth as I was heading home from my doctoral studies.  I would often take a little detour through downtown to break the monotony of the drive, or to stop for some quick shopping or a bite to eat.  I thought it the most beautiful and inspiring building and can still picture it--standing on a little hill above the street as the road split right in front of the church.  Somewhere in my photographs, I have a picture of the church, taken in the days of the 35 mm and paper pictures, but I've neither the time nor the energy to comb through them right now.

A black and white image of the church is available through the link below:
 Hinsdale & Bryant. [Mount Gilead Baptist Church], Photograph, n.d.; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth38218 : accessed March 06, 2011), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Arlington, Texas.

A 2009 color photograph can be seen here.

Although I had thought that the church was slated for demolition back in the late 90s, due to road improvements, happily, that is not the case.  Mount Gilead is listed along with several significant buildings in a major preservation project of the city, as they attempt to preserve the historic buildings while still enabling growth and development.  From the Ft. Worth city website, the following gives additional information about this beautiful and historic work:

"Mount Gilead Baptist Church (1912 - 2003)
Founded in 1875, Mount Gilead is the oldest African-American Baptist church in Fort Worth.The congregationmet in at least two previously locations before constructing this building at 600 Grove Street.Designed by William [sic] A. Rayfield, a black architect, the structure is in a Neoclassical style.Its outstanding features are the front portico with six non-fluted columns, pedimented gables, and simple exterior moldings, all characteristic of Greek Revival architecture, although other features such as the semi-circular arched windows suggest Romanesque influence. Mount Gilead has been called the “Mother” of all African-American churches in Tarrant County."

NOTE:  The architect's name is Wallace Augustus Rayfield.

If you find yourself in Ft. Worth, take the time to detour from the Interstate and check out this building; it's worth the time.  Then, when you finish, go eat at Joe T. Garcia's, but take cash, because they don't take credit cards. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tupelo High School: Bem Price, Birmingham

No, this is not the building designed by Bem Price of Birmingham, and identified in the 1928-1929 architects of education buildings earlier in the month on MissPres blog.  In attempting to locate the building, I discovered that it was apparently destroyed in the 1936 tornado, and was rebuilt that same year--unknown information about that building's architect or builder.  The former high school building is now Milam elementary school.

Some additions have been made to the building following conversion to the elementary school, but the original building appears to have been the central building seen in this picture, and perhaps the round room to the left of the photo.

The building was constructed in the 30s, so this sign over the entrance gate must have been the gift of graduating students in 1949--if I were guessing why signs end up at schools years after the building's construction.  Entrance gates, walks with names on bricks--the ubiquitous carving of our presence in some semi-permanent fashion.
Around back--also apparently part of the original building (the newer wing seems quite evident just to the right of this section)--was most likely a gymnasium.  It doesn't take much imagination for me to picture couples hanging out in those doorways, girls wearing full skirts and sweaters with a strand of pearls.  One of my favorite pictures of my mother during those years, she is wearing such an ensemble.  My dad carried it in his billfold while he was in India and China during WWII, and it is creased and cracked as a result.