Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thomas Hinds Masonic Lodge...and former Presbyterian Church

 The Thomas Hinds Masonic Lodge is the oldest brick building still standing in Fayette.  The history of this building is interesting, but with gaps that make it kind of difficult to fill in the blanks.  It was a joint effort by the Masons and Presbyterians.  The church would contribute to the building, and church would be on the first floor and the lodge on the second floor.  The building opened (as best I could tell from this history) in 1860.
Although the Presbyterians occupied the first floor for a number of years, they began building and/or planning a new church in 1917 and the Masons and Presbyterians parted ways.  The building was apparently sold to a Brookhaven lumber company in 2004 following the decline of lodge membership.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fayette Church

Who knows about this church in Fayette, Mississippi?

Update: The Presbyterians were first churched in the bottom floor of the Thomas Hinds Masonic Lodge in Fayette.  They began a new church building in 1917.  The reference indicates that church was held regularly in the new building on Main Street for 50 years.  There is also a picture of children in front of the church building that was taken in 1949 or 1950.  By 2002, there were only 4 members remaining, and the building was sold to the Raining Manna Christian Center in 2005.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Old Natchez Jail

The Old Natchez city jail was erected in 1891, and is still in use as city offices, though not for housing prisoners.
 The Champion Iron Company specialized in a variety of iron works, including fences, gates, and jail buildings.  They completed iron and steel cell work and city lock-ups.  This 1884 miniature catalogue includes illustrations of their beautiful work, Champion Iron Company, Kenton, Ohio 
The old jail has something of a history of being haunted, which is the subject of a couple of books, the Mississippi Paranormal Society, and at least one TV news investigative report.  Of course, because Natchez is considered the "second most haunted city in Mississippi" this should not surprise anyone.
How many western movies did you watch where a gang of outlaws tied a rope around the bars of the window and pulled them out with the horse?  That's a feat that seems highly unlikely to me, along with ghosts inhabiting the jail.  I am of the opinion that "a sound in the night does not a ghost make."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

First Presbyterian Church Natchez

 First Presbyterian church was organized in 1817.  The building was completed "on this site on a high hill." (FPC website history).  The present building was erected in 1828-29 after the hill was graded to its present level.
The building is in the Federal style.  In 1830, galleries were added and in 1851, 16 more feet in order to increase the seating to its present 800 capacity.  Stratton Chapel on the east side of the sanctuary was completed in 1900, and is in the Romanesque Revival style.  Stratton houses the Natchez in Historic Photographs collection, open to the public, which presents a picture of Natchez life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The clock in the belfry was the official town clock in the 1830s and the city government paid for its upkeep.  It was destroyed in the 1840 tornado.  The present belfry was built to house a new clock.  The brass bell was cast in 1856 and placed in the belfry in 1859.

Slightly visible to the left of the Presbyterian Church is Trinity Episcopal, recommended to me by the lady I met while photographing Holy Family.  It is interesting to me that even though I had seen it, and photographed the church next door, I had not only found it not interesting enough to photograph, but did not even recall the building.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Holy Family, Natchez: The first black congregation of Catholics in Mississippi

 Continuing on toward Martin Luther King Boulevard in Natchez Friday, through the heart of this African American community, I spied another steeple and the back of a large church that reminded me somewhat of St. Mary's downtown.  With good reason I would discover: Holy Family was built in 1894, after a somewhat contentious decision to split the congregation from the mixed race, but white controlled, St. Mary's and establish a separate black church.  Tristano's (1998) micro history is a fascinating look at the origins and development of this parish.  Tristano reports
...founding members were children of white fathers and mixed race mothers...one method of a micro history is recovery of lost people...in this case, lost to Catholic history and lost to African American history... 
 Holy Family was the first African American Catholic Church in Mississippi, built in a 19th century Gothic Revival style with Queen Anne details (Pace, 2007).  It includes a school for children from pre-school through 4th grade.  The Holy Family Choir performs "Southern Road to Freedom" during Natchez' spring pilgrimage.
 Holy Family is staffed by the Josephites, the only community of men in the American Catholic Church engaged exclusively in ministry to African American communities.  The first African American priest trained and ordained in the US was Fr. Charles R. Uncles, and he was one of the founding members of the St. Joseph Society for Sacred Heart, established in 1871.  The society is a multicultural organization, and is also committed to working for social justice in African American communities.
 As I parked and stepped out of the car, an older (well, older than I am) white woman also stepped out of her car that had been stopped in the middle of the street.  She asked me about the garage where I was parked, wanting to know if it was a particular business.  I responded that I did not know, I was not from Natchez, and had only stopped to take a picture of this beautiful church.  She proceeded to tell me that if I thought this church was beautiful, then I must go see Trinity Episcopal downtown...and immediately began giving directions and describing the church.  She mentioned the Presbyterian Church nearby, which I said I had seen the evening before.  I did not mention that I was headed out of town, but thanked her for the information.  I was not interested in going back downtown, even to find a church "much more beautiful" than this one.  I suppose it is all in one's perspective, but I looked up Trinity Episcopal just now, and recognized that indeed, I had been standing right across the street from it the evening before.  I was truly glad I had not made the effort.  In my opinion, it in no way compares architecturally (or historically for that matter) to Holy Family.  I will let you judge for yourself, though.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church: Not on the 101 Mississippi Places to See Before You Die List

 Leaving Natchez this afternoon, I decided on taking in a few of the area's finalists for Preservation in Mississippi's "101 Places in Mississippi to see before you die" list, to add to my visit to St. Mary's Basilica (also on the list) from yesterday.  I programmed the addresses into my GPS (on my new Lexus CT Hybrid's first road trip!) and started out.  From my location, it took me right through the heart of the African American community.  This place is not on the list, but on spying it, I wheeled into the parking space.  I'm thinking it should have made the list, for a lot of reasons, but then, lots of great sites did not make the list.  
The Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church was organized before the Civil War, and is the oldest organized black Baptist congregation in Mississippi.

A man was sitting in a parked vehicle when I pulled in, and he lowered his window, looking expectantly at me as if to inquire why I was there.  I stepped over to his window and said I had wanted to take a picture of the church, and would that be all right?  He smiled and nodded.  To be truthful, I didn't need permission to take the picture, but I probably did need permission to park in their space whilst I did my photography.  I really need to start carrying my other two lenses with me on road trips.  In crowded spaces, I am finding that I cannot get the view I really want with the limitations of the area.  I settled for taking my usual variety of angles, details, and the "best possible under the circumstances" overall shot.

 The building was constructed in 1908, and contains a 1912 Moller Pipe Organ.

In her Historic Churches of Mississippi (2007), Sherry Pace indicated African American congregations preferred the Gothic Revival style during the period of 1880s-1910s.  Tomorrow, I'll share the efforts at getting to another Gothic Revival black church in this African American neighborhood.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

St. Mary Minor Basilica, Natchez

 St. Mary Cathredral (until 1977) is the oldest Catholic building still in use in Mississippi.  In 1999, Pope John Paul II bestowed Minor Basilica status.
 It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is considered an "architectural masterpiece among Catholic churches in the South."  This evening, the sun was hitting the western side of the building in such a way as to bathe it in a golden light.  I have been to Natchez several times, downtown, but tonight was the first time I have seen this magnificent Gothic Revival architectural beauty.

 The Rectory dates to 1846, and also has National Register of Historic Places designation.
 Construction began in 1842 and was completed in 1859.  It was the first cathedral for Roman Catholic Diocese of Mississippi, and served the Irish and Italian immigrant population.

 It was impossible for me to get a complete and unobstructed view of any angle of the church.  It is so much more beautiful and inspiring--the size if nothing else--than one can imagine.
 This is the coat of arms for Pope John Paul II.  It represents a cross, with the M signifying the presence of the Madonna under the cross.  A portrait inside the church shows Mary under the cross.

Shadow and light: a metaphor for our lives at times, is it not?

It's just been one of those days...

Here it is after midnight and I have a 5:30 wake up call coming and I am not in bed yet.  I'm in Natchez for the NASW annual program meeting, where I am presenting twice (note to self: what was I thinking?).  I just finished the power point for the second presentation...yes, Gigi, of course I did. :)

Way back in November, there seemed to be plenty of time to get those two presentations done.  This year has been worse than usual for the "do the next thing" method of managing, though.  With our chair serving as interim dean, we are short in the administration department.  My friends and colleagues, Debra and Chris, and I are trying to cover the BSW program director position and field director, the MSW program director position and field director, the chair position, and do our regular teaching and research and service. As a result, no matter how much planning and organizing I seem to do, it just does not happen.  Something else always seems to jump in the middle of things with a big ole priority sign in front of it.

I'm not complaining--I find that often I do my best work in a crisis as it tends to force me to focus.  But, really, folks, I would like to have some non-crisis opportunities to check that out.  This past week has been non-stop crisis.  My father-in-law has been in the emergency room and/or hospital and/or ambulance 4 times in the past week.  Given he is 12 hours from us, and alone except for his wonderful sister-in-law and brother-in-law (our beloved Auntie and Tio BenBen), it is frustrating for him, them, and us.  It's not over yet, and we are trying to figure out how to juggle our demanding jobs with the very important need to be in Texas at the same time.

My dear friend and colleague is ill.  There is nothing I would not do for her if I could, and as far as I can tell, so would the rest of the crew.  It did mean that I had to juggle things to accommodate covering some things for her in the next few days, at the same time that I had to be here for the conference.  This weekend is our spring recruit day, so we were arranging coverage at the same time I was getting the recruitment materials together to bring to the conference.  I was supposed to have a grad student with me to manage the recruiting table...didn't happen.  So, now I am trying to juggle presenting, recruiting, and getting my needed CEs as my license renewal is due.  Everyone just jumped right in there to offer help and support though, and we have managed to get it all done by working together.  Everyone literally stepped up to fill in the gaps, and it is a poignant reminder of the importance of relationship.

I had been looking forward to the Natchez trip for a while, and my other good friend and colleague was supposed to join me.  We are great "roomies" because we both like the room COLD!  She was unable to come, so I hopped into my new Lexus hybrid (2 hours later than I had hoped to depart Oxford) and hit the road.  (I love this car, by the way.  Just got it Saturday, but it is awesome.  It handles superbly, and I got 48 mpg on the trip down).  I did have to drive in pouring rain almost the entire way.  I made a quick pit stop in Jackson just as the bottom dropped out, and got totally drenched.  The 4 p.m. traffic was horrid, and it was blinding rain for the trip through town.  Finally, at the turnoff to Natchez, the rain let up and the last hour of the trip was quite beautiful and pleasant.

I am safely ensconced in my Vidalia Riverfront hotel that I prefer ( a mere 5 minute drive across the Mississippi River Bridge to the conference site) and looking forward to tomorrow.  I'll try to visit some historic sites to take a few pictures, eat at Fat Mama's Tamales, and relax out on the riverfront to watch the Mississippi River roll on by.  So, I sacrifice tonight, but tomorrow evening is play time.

Then, it's back to Oxford and work on Saturday.  Some days a diamond...some days a stone.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

W. B. Nobles Drug Store in Marks

I took a detour through Marks on my way home Wednesday, intending to photograph the courthouse.  I was not certain where it actually was, so thought my best effort was to find "downtown" and work from there.  My best effort at learning about this drug store was less fruitful.
The only reference I can locate comes from a piece of memorabilia from the store, with a 1947 calendar on the back, for sale for a mere $22.  
The former drug store is one in a series of the block-long storefronts.  The department store next door probably was the Masonic meeting location--something I discovered is fairly common in small towns.  The upper floor of a main street building was used for the meetings, while some business occupied the lower half of the building.

Detail above the former drug store.