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Lamar Life Building

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1924–1925, Sanguinet, Staats and Hedrick, with N. W. Overstreet. 315 E. Capitol St.
  • (Photograph by Ty Cole)
  • (Photograph by Jennifer V.O. Baughn)
  • (Photograph by Ty Cole)
  • (Photograph by Ty Cole)

The Lamar Life Insurance Company, founded in Jackson in 1906 in the Medical Building (1904, 518 E. Capitol) had by the 1920s outgrown its second rented space and embarked on its own office tower designed by a Fort Worth firm. Their ten-story concrete-framed skyscraper rose above the new capitol to become the state's tallest building, with its clock tower (called "The Singing Tower" since it housed a radio station) topping out at 191 feet. Its stepped-back design is the first use of this skyscraper form in the state, and with its clean white terra-cotta cladding and Gothic styling it resembles New York City's Woolworth Building (1910). The eye follows the slender ribs upward to the blind arcade and tracery-filled balustrade, itself topped by pinnacles. Gargoyles peek over the upper edges of the building, and upside-down alligator gargoyles once perched at street level.

In One Writer's Beginnings (1984), Eudora Welty recalled her first trip to the roof with her father, Lamar Life’s general manager, Christian Welty, "At last we could climb by the fire escape to reach the top. We stood on the roof with the not yet working clock towering at our backs, and viewed Jackson below, spread to its seeable limits, its green rim, where the still river-like Pearl River and the still unpaved-over Town Creek meandered and joined together in their unmolested swamp with the country beyond."

Writing Credits

Jennifer V.O. Baughn
Jennifer V.O. Baughn and Michael Fazio



  • 1924


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Jennifer V.O. Baughn, "Lamar Life Building", [, Mississippi], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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