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The deepest of the Deep South states, Mississippi emerges as a mythic figure in film, music, and literature, symbolizing both the good and the bad in American culture, especially regarding its struggles with race and civil rights. However, Mississippi’s towns, buildings, and landscapes, its physical places, embody a reality more nuanced than the myth. Those who take the time while touring the state’s grand and much-celebrated white-columned architecture to examine the small outbuildings once occupied by enslaved African Americans, drive through twentieth-century neighborhoods built for sawmill workers or newly rich oil tycoons, spend time on Farish Street in Jackson, Nelson in Greenville, or other streets that once defined the highest culture of black Mississippians during segregation, and examine the state’s post—World War II modern architecture will find a Mississippi that is diverse, not monolithic, with interesting and often surprising stories to tell.

Bordered on the west by the Mississippi River and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi lies almost entirely within the level or slightly rolling Eastern Gulf Coastal Plain. A rural and agrarian state, its settlement patterns have always been integral to the productivity of the land. The Gulf Coast, the first of its regions to be settled by Europeans, has historically thrived on maritime industries and tourism but has been regularly battered by destructive hurricanes. Along the Mississippi and Tombigbee rivers, the rich soil encouraged early settlement by white planters who established large plantations, worked by their black slaves. After the Civil War, forest industries produced boom towns in the southeastern Piney Woods. Small farms still dominate the upland areas of the central hills and northeast corner of the state.

Most Mississippians live in the state’s myriad small towns, many of which have fewer than 1,000 residents. Jackson, the capital and largest city, has a population of only about 170,000. County seats are prominent, and ten of Mississippi’s eighty-two counties have two county seats, a legacy of nineteenth-century transportation difficulties. Today, rural communities and towns are connected by a web of highways that have reduced isolation.

Because Mississippi long had an African American majority, its built landscape tells a story of race relations in America from the interactions of owners and slaves before the Civil War to the uncertain and often violent transitions of Reconstruction, the enforced racial segregation that followed, the growth of black and white middle classes, and the twentieth-century struggle for civil rights.


As early as 10,000 BCE Native Americans occupied the area now known as Mississippi, and by the Middle Archaic Period (8000–3500 BCE) they were building the earthen mounds that still mark their long presence. While erosion, cultivation, and development have destroyed many mounds, some that survive still rise as high as sixty feet. Within an individual complex, mounds were situated relative to one another and to wide, leveled plazas, with processional paths oriented to important astrological phenomena or to waterways. Most mounds seem to have been used for both burials and ceremonies, with leaders living on earthen platforms in wooden houses and worshipping in wooden temples. Today many mound sites are open to the public, including the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians (ND60), Emerald Mound in Natchez, the Pocahontas Mounds in Hinds County, the Winterville Mound complex (DR21) north of Greenville, and Nanih Waiya Mound, south of Louisville. A Mound Trail with markers guides visitors to other mound sites around the state.

Around 1500, descendants of the mound builders separated into three tribes—Natchez, Choctaw, and Chickasaw—all of which spoke related Muskogean-family languages. It was these groups whom the first European explorers encountered, beginning with Hernando de Soto in 1540–1541.

After scattered and serial colonization in the eighteenth century by France, Spain, and Great Britain, Mississippi became an American territory in 1798. When it joined the Union as the twentieth state in 1817, it had already begun the spectacular financial ascent built on cotton and slavery that made it the nation’s fifth wealthiest state by 1860. Its cotton economy fed textile mills in New England and England and brought fantastic wealth to the planters who came to the state from the East Coast and Upper South during the “Mississippi Fever” years of the 1830s through the 1850s. First building crude cabins, these settlers graduated to more substantial planter’s cottages once their slaves had cleared sufficient arable land and cotton production had begun. The wealthiest among them owned multiple plantations worked by hundreds of slaves and erected grand mansions in and around such river port towns as Natchez, Columbus, Aberdeen, and Vicksburg.

With the cotton economy resting on the ownership and labor of slaves, Mississippi’s leaders so dreaded the possible abolition of slavery that the state seceded from the United States in 1861 and became a part of the Confederate States of America, presided over by Jefferson Davis, a Mississippian. Union forces occupied much of the state beginning with the Vicksburg Campaign of 1863; the constant skirmishing in some towns led to desolate landscapes of ruin, especially in Jackson, which changed hands three times between May and June of 1863 and in Vicksburg, which was under siege from May 18 to July 4, 1863. Emancipation and Union victory in 1865 led to freedom for enslaved Americans, a majority of the state’s population. Reconstruction, when federal troops occupied the state to maintain order, lasted until 1876.


After the Civil War, planters found themselves land rich but cash poor, and while former slaves were now free, they had only their capacity for labor, leading to a system of tenant farming and share-cropping. Both groups relied almost completely on cotton for their livelihoods. “King Cotton” remained dominant in the state for so long that historians call Mississippi the “Heartland of the Cotton Kingdom.” Grown on small farms in the hill sections and thousand-acre parcels in the Natchez District and the Delta, cotton required transportation systems, supporting industries, and a professional class of middlemen (factors) who marketed the product. Steamboats and later railroad branch lines serviced the large plantations such as Dockery (DR62) and Hopson (DR44); gins and compresses processed the cotton and warehouses stored it; factors in centers such as Greenwood, Greenville, Vicksburg, and Natchez graded its quality; mills crushed the cotton seeds for oil and chemicals, and others such as the J. M. Stone Cotton Mill (CH16) in Starkville spun the cotton into cloth.

Short railroads first appeared in the 1830s, usually linking an inland town such as Woodville to the closest navigable river. After the Civil War, a more comprehensive system opened the interior of the state to development, and by 1900 rail traffic superseded river traffic. The Illinois Central consolidated many of the early lines, including the lucrative Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad, which carried the Delta’s cotton harvests to market. After the Civil War, railroads enabled the development of the timber industry in the state’s great yellow pine forests and introduced new methods of building by relocating craftsmen and transporting factory-made materials to construction sites.

After federal troops left the state in 1876, white Democrats toppled the Republican power structure, systematically dismantled all vestiges of Reconstruction, and, in 1890, adopted a new state constitution that disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites. This legal framework enabled a pervasive segregated culture, named Jim Crow for a minstrel-show character, which affected virtually every aspect of life, from where African Americans could live, shop, and attend school to their participation in cultural events. Whereas in the decades following the war, Confederate imagery had been discouraged and memorials were confined to cemeteries as markers of communal grief, by the 1890s triumphant white Democrats revived Confederate symbolism and began erecting Confederate monuments as symbols of power in prominent civic locations. The earliest of these is the 1891 monument on the Old Capitol grounds (JM12), but smaller standardized monuments, typically a soldier on a shaft, dot the grounds of many courthouse squares.

In time, particularly after World War I, the oppressive political, economic, and social conditions spurred tens of thousands of black Mississippians to leave the state, seeking prospects and a better life in northern industrial cities. Jim Crow laws survived until the 1960s, when the civil rights movement finally ended them.

The hold of cotton on the state’s economy diminished in the early twentieth century, especially after destructive boll weevil infestations beginning in 1907. The economy slowly diversified, first with timber, then with seafood canning, soybeans, cattle, dairy products, truck farming, and secondary wood products such as Masonite. The discovery near Jackson of natural gas in 1930 and oil in 1939, combined with the electrification of rural areas by the Tennessee Valley Authority and expansion of the federal highway system, encouraged more industrial development. Beginning in the 1930s the state’s Balance Agriculture with Industry (BAWI) program used public bonds to attract manufacturers, including the huge Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, still the state’s largest employer.

The federal government dramatically reshaped Mississippi’s landscape during the Great Depression. The Army Corps of Engineers assumed control of the levee system along the Mississippi River after the ruinous floods of 1927 and 1937, but while their work protected farmland and buildings, it blocked access to the river for many communities. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) undertook a massive reforestation of cutover timber lands and built ten state parks during the 1930s. The Public Works Administration (PWA) funded the construction of water and sewer systems, community houses, courthouses, bridges, post offices—many with art installations—and hundreds of schools, most of them for white students. The Resettlement Administration (RSA) built four homestead communities, including one at Tupelo (NE23). And the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) began documenting antebellum buildings, directed in Mississippi by architect A. Hays Town.

Before the outbreak of World War II, Camp Shelby, the sprawling National Guard base established during World War I south of Hattiesburg, was reactivated and during the war became one of the nation’s largest training camps. By 1944 Mississippi had thirty-six bases, including four German prisoner-of-war camps and Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. After the war, many of the state’s military airfields were converted to municipal airports. Partly through the BAWI program, Mississippi participated in the country’s postwar industrial boom, diversifying its economy with furniture making, tire and fertilizer production, and poultry processing. At the same time, mechanized cotton harvesters transformed farming communities and forced much of the labor force to migrate into cities for work. On the Gulf Coast in Biloxi and Gulfport, federal highways brought more tourists, especially after the legalization of casino gambling in 1990. The opening of a Nissan factory in Canton in 2003 and a Toyota plant near Tupelo in 2011 introduced regionally competitive economic development to the state.


Most Mississippi towns, particularly those founded after the Civil War, were established along railroad lines and were laid out on a grid pattern, sometimes oriented to the cardinal points, sometimes to a river or to railroad tracks. A water tower is often the tallest structure and displays the town’s name. Many passenger and freight depots remain, and if a town once had a reason for passengers to stay over-night, a hotel may still stand nearby. Industries also lined the railroad tracks, especially cotton gins and cottonseed oil mills, but also sawmills, brick plants, packing sheds, box factories, and icehouses. Some towns, such as Cleveland and Brookhaven, built rows of commercial buildings facing the tracks, further emphasizing the importance of the railroad to their existence.

Segregation accompanied the development of Mississippi’s railroad towns, with separate neighborhoods for blacks and whites. While neighborhoods for whites were in a town’s choicest areas, African American neighborhoods usually occupied less desirable zones near industries or flood plains. The largest black communities developed self-contained business and cultural districts (see The Segregated Landscape, p. 315).

Most of the state’s towns never expanded past their original gridded boundaries, typically one-mile square, but by the turn of the twentieth century a few grew large enough to have a streetcar system. Some, such as Vicksburg, Jackson, and Meridian, had multiple lines extending to new suburbs, and a few, such as Pascagoula, Moss Point, and Laurel-Ellisville, boasted interurban systems. Although replaced by buses in the 1930s, their impact on development patterns remains evident in early-twentieth-century neighborhoods. By the 1950s, highways built to bypass congested downtowns had generated such automobile-related buildings as service stations and motels.

In many of Mississippi’s counties, the county seat is the only town of any size, functioning as the political, economic, and cultural center. Most were laid out with an open block for the courthouse and town square, which, surrounded by brick commercial buildings erected over several decades, display an impressive urbanism within a modest acreage while providing public green space. Often the buildings were linked by sidewalk canopies supported by wood or iron columns.

Whether within a square or not, the courthouse is typically the most monumental and architecturally sophisticated building in a county seat and often in the entire county. Only a few antebellum courthouses remain, notably the modest Federal-style Amite County Courthouse (ND10) in Liberty. Late-nineteenth-century courthouses are larger and often feature Italianate cupolas or imposing Romanesque Revival towers. The construction of the New Capitol (JM16), beginning in 1901, brought a renewal of classicism to courthouse designs, seen immediately in the Sharkey County Courthouse (DR2) in Rolling Fork. N. W. Overstreet designed many courthouses in the early twentieth century and introduced an informal classicism fused with Prairie and Mediterranean influences, as in Meadville (ND13) and Corinth (NE5). Courthouses of the 1930s, such as those in Carthage (EM1) and Leakesville (PW23) are Moderne, a style that at its heart is classical.

Banks and fraternal lodges often occupied street corner locations. Sometimes lodges shared space with civic institutions, as in the Chickasaw County Courthouse (CH2) in Okolona and the Jackson City Hall (JM31), revealing just how embedded freemasonry once was in the life and power structure of Mississippi communities. This held true for African American lodges, which were usually on or near church property as, for example, the Soria City Lodge (see GC18) in Gulfport. The Stringer Grand Lodge (JM65) in Jackson leased office space to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and other organizations.

Religious buildings are plentiful in the state and are predominantly Baptist and Methodist for both blacks and whites. These preaching-centered congregations/churches typically took a meetinghouse form or, later, an auditorium plan. Larger churches typically added educational or Sunday school wings, as at the First United Methodist Church (YB29) in Yazoo City. Although Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians had long preferred classical styles, they embraced Colonial Revival and Gothic Revival modes by the early twentieth century. Nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Episcopalian and Catholic churches in the state, as elsewhere, are usually Gothic Revival in style. Many small Mississippi towns once had significant Jewish populations; the most distinctive surviving temple is the Moorish Revival building (ND74) in Port Gibson.

In 1920 just 13.4 percent of Mississippi’s citizens lived in towns of more than 2,500 inhabitants, and Meridian, then the state’s largest city, had a population of only 23,000. In 1930 Jackson overtook Meridian as the state’s largest city. Its suburban expansion after World War II led to numerous annexations; by 2010 it counted a population of 170,000, and by 2010, 50 percent of the state’s population lived in urban areas.

The twentieth-century growth of coastal towns, notably Gulfport, Biloxi, and Pascagoula, was predicated on middle-class tourism, enlargement of military bases during World War II and the Cold War, and expansion of the shipyards in Pascagoula. Today, Jackson and the Biloxi-Gulfport-Pascagoula metropolitan area constitute the state’s only urbanized areas outside of the Memphis-oriented counties in the northwest corner of the state.


Pine, oak, cedar, and cypress from Mississippi’s abundant forests and swamps have long been the most popular construction materials and remain so. Because only a few locales have building stone, brick and, later, concrete masonry have signified permanence and status. Brick manufacturing before the Civil War was notoriously inefficient, and the bricks were of uncertain quality. In the 1830s, architect William Nichols expressed constant frustration with the low quality and limited quantities of brick delivered for his Mississippi State Capitol (JM12). But by 1900 industrial operations in Jackson, Brookhaven, Columbus, and other towns exploited the state’s rich variety of clays and made superior-quality pressed brick. Yet, as late as 1940 a brick house was enough of a luxury that civil rights leader Amzie Moore could comment that his was the first brick house (DR30) for an African American in Cleveland.

Adaptations to Mississippi’s hot, humid climate have made for distinctive vernacular residential forms. Most of the state’s nineteenth-century houses were raised on piers of cypress logs, brick, or stone, allowing for ventilation underneath. Traditionally, houses for all socioeconomic levels were detached and built on an individual plot and, until air-conditioning after World War II, included a porch or gallery. Porches, often seen on both front and rear facades, served both environmental and social purposes, providing a shaded place for working, visiting, and sleeping during the hotter months. Full-width galleries are more common in the southern and central parts of the state, while porticos are more typical in the hills and northern sections. Until World War II, porches were intrinsic to the design of houses, not mere appendages, and antebellum porches were often finished like the adjacent interior spaces, with high ceilings, flush-board wall cladding, baseboards, and sometimes a wainscot. Porches are rare on air-conditioned houses built from the 1960s to the 1980s, but some architects, notably A. Hays Town, renewed the tradition, as at the Puckett House (JM60) in Jackson, and today porches abound in suburban neighborhoods.

Center-hall plans were the norm in Mississippi’s middle- and upper-class houses of the nineteenth century. A center-hall not only served as a breezeway during the summer but also created a living area that flowed into front and rear porches. From the 1820s through the 1870s, the state’s most common center-hall plan was a one- or one-and-a-half-story, double-pile house, with a side-gable roof, a raised pier foundation, and a full undercut front gallery or central portico. This side-gable form is known in Mississippi as a planter’s cottage because of its association with planters of middling wealth. The I-house, a two-story structure only one room deep, is another common surviving type from the same period, and it too almost always features a center hall. An exception to the dominance of the center-hall plan is found mainly in the coastal counties and in the Natchez District where rooms are adjacent to one another without an interior hallway. Pascagoula’s LaPointe-Krebs House (GC44), the oldest surviving house in Mississippi, began as two adjacent rooms, with galleries used as outdoor passageways.

Dogtrot houses, usually of log construction, have two main rooms often built at different times and separated by a wide breezeway but connected by a single side-gable roof. Dogtrots are most common in the central and northern sections of the state, where newcomers from the Upland South settled, but the first recorded account of a dogtrot is by Samuel Forman, who in 1790 described a plantation house near Natchez, “The place had a small clearing and log house on it, and he put up another log house to correspond with it about fourteen feet apart, connecting them with boards, with a piazza [porch] in front of the whole.”

Mississippi’s L-front form, popular in the late-nineteenth century, evolved from the four-room, center-hall cottage to feature a front-facing gabled section and a porch filling out the ell. Vicksburg’s Italianate houses show a high-style version in the Beck House (YB19), and the form spread throughout the state for middle-class housing in both white and black neighborhoods, often decorated with ornate wooden trim.

Most working-class families lived in shotgun houses, one room wide and from two to five rooms deep, front-gabled, and often with a full-width porch. These were especially common on the narrow lots in African American neighborhoods, but Elvis Presley grew up in a shotgun house (NE22) that his father built in Tupelo. Shotgun houses were also constructed in rural locations, usually as tenant or share-cropper dwellings.

If Mississippi can be said to have a characteristic twentieth-century house type, it is the bungalow, which by 1920 was being built in working- and middle-class neighborhoods, both black and white, and persisted until the early 1950s, when it gave way to the ranch house. In “The American Bungalow,” architectural historian Clay Lancaster suggests the Gulf Coast’s low, horizontal cottage forms as one strand of many that brought about the “bungalow craze.” His illustrations include Biloxi’s Gillis House (c. 1830), with its wide eaves, low roofline, and deep porches, and Louis Sullivan’s shingled, horizontally proportioned house (1891; see GC40) in Ocean Springs, both destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By the 1920s, bungalows followed national norms with compact open plans but no hallway, thus losing the cross ventilation that had defined Mississippi’s residences for a century, though they retained broad porches.


The names of the nineteenth-century carpenters, masons, plasterers, and craftworkers who put the state’s buildings together are largely unknown. Contemporary newspapers often named a building’s architect or builder but ignored artisans or subcontractors. One exception is Charles H. Manship, a grainer, ornamental painter, and the mayor of Jackson in 1862–1863, whose name appears in historical records. His election as mayor demonstrates the high level of society that a white craftsman could attain in the nineteenth century.

The anonymity of Mississippi’s artisans is compounded for African Americans, as their names typically were omitted even from official records. Historical sources such as letters and newspapers document the important role of black brick masons, who were prominent during the antebellum period and even more so later, but their names rarely appear other than on the cornerstones of churches built for black congregations.

Like most newly settled states, Mississippi attracted master builders and architects from elsewhere. Among the earliest were Levi Weeks from New York City and English immigrant William Nichols in 1808 and 1835, respectively, both of whom helped shape the state’s public architecture during its formative period. George T., Thomas, and William Weldon, Irish immigrants who owned some fifty skilled, enslaved workers during the 1850s, formed the first firm in Mississippi providing both design and construction services for large public projects. The poverty and economic uncertainty that followed the Civil War diminished prospects for designers and builders for years, and it was not until the late 1890s that the firm of W. S. and F. B. Hull had the staff to both design and construct large public and industrial buildings.

Until the early twentieth century, architects commissioned for major projects invariably were from out of state, most of them from New Orleans and Texas. The first Mississippians to have professional training were W. A. Stanton, who attended Cornell University for two years in the early 1890s, and Emmett J. Hull, who graduated from Cornell in 1906. N. W. Overstreet was the third, graduating from the University of Illinois in 1912. The Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) received its charter in 1929, with Overstreet as its first president. The state’s larger contracting firms organized in 1946 as the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Mississippi.

After 1930 most Mississippi-born architects sought academic training and a professional bachelor’s degree within the region, most often from Auburn or Tulane universities or the Georgia Institute of Technology. Architects who had graduated during the Great Depression and then served in World War II returned home to establish practices. Following James T. “Jack” Canizaro, who opened an office in Jackson in 1938, they included, in Jackson, Tom Biggs, Ransom Jones, and his partner, Harry Haas, and in Meridian, Chris Risher Sr. In a 1954 article, the editors of Architectural Record observed that “architecturally, [Jackson] is an exciting place today, with over 40 licensed architects in more than twenty busy firms.” They found these numbers in a city of only some one hundred thousand people to be unusually high and were surprised to find “in a place where tradition is so strong, as uniform a desire for contemporary expression among architects themselves.” As for the public’s opinions on modernism, they concluded that it was “accepted in Jackson to an average degree, possibly slightly less than elsewhere.”

In the early 1970s, a contingent of architects from the Mississippi AIA convinced the legislature to establish a school of architecture and to locate it at Mississippi State University (CH17). The first class graduated in 1979, and since then most of the state’s practitioners have been educated here.


Architectural classicism has been especially revered in Mississippi, where the classical tradition was firmly established in the prosperous antebellum period and has since become synonymous with it. If the Civil War had not intervened, perhaps the state’s architectural progress would have followed that of the rest of the country, but instead classicism has persevered, arguably because of white nostalgia for the Old South but also due to a general preference for the familiar and local. Mississippi’s African American population has been less interested in classical forms, mostly declining to embrace white columns and the society they represent.

Some Mississippians also seem to appreciate amalgamations of classicism with a variety of other, sometimes seemingly incongruous styles, most dramatically Gothic, Italianate, and Tudor, as seen in many antebellum houses in Columbus. This thread of a picturesque classicism runs through the details of many other buildings, as Italianate brackets enrich otherwise subdued Greek Revival cottages, classical columns are found on ornate Queen Anne houses, dentils appear on Gothic Revival churches, modillions line the deep eaves of Prairie- and Mediterranean-styled courthouses, and Doric porticos project from bungalows and ranch houses. Classicism’s persistence also extends to a tendency for symmetrical forms and tripartite massing, as seen to great effect in the Moderne War Memorial Building (JM13) in Jackson.


The public’s affection for traditional design has perhaps limited the number of canonically modern buildings in the state, but this has led to many interesting experiments and hybridizations, beginning in the 1930s with the Moderne and International Style works of N. W. Overstreet and A. Hays Town. After World War II, architects experimented with abstract geometries, substituting bold structural elements for ornamentation, as at Coleman Middle School (DR17) in Greenville. The International Style came to prominence in the state in the late 1940s, in such buildings as Vise Clinic (EM9) in Meridian and Kolb’s Cleaners (JM48) and First National Bank (now Trustmark, JM23), both in Jackson. It became widespread from the late 1950s, particularly for schools.

Mississippi’s late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century architecture has followed national trends, as evident in the 1980s Mirror Lake Plaza (JM79) in Flowood, with its reflective-glass exterior. The Mississippi Library Commission building (see JM57) and the Civil Rights Museum (JM14), both in Jackson, the Hunter Henry Center (CH17.10) at Mississippi State University, and the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum (GC28) in Biloxi also demonstrate receptivity to new ideas and forms. More structural and formal experimentation is evident in building projects undertaken along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, such as the Hancock County Civic Center (see GC2) and Waveland’s Business Center (GC11).


Mississippi’s poverty after the Civil War saved many antebellum buildings, and these became the focus of early preservation efforts. The first attempt at cataloging was “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” a two-part article by Mrs. N. D. Deupree in the 1902 and 1903 editions of the Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society. Deupree introduced architectural history to Mississippians when she wrote: “One of the most delightful methods of history study is by acquaintance with old landmarks and buildings, especially the homes. These object lessons illuminate dry facts and bring us face to face with scenes of the past. Patriotic societies, North and East, realizing this fact, are rescuing, restoring, and marking historic sites and buildings.” The state’s first two preservation battles took place soon after the publication of Deupree’s articles. In 1908, when the Governor’s Mansion (JM18) was threatened with demolition, architect William S. Hull argued successfully for its renovation, and in his 1909 report on its status credited women’s organizations—the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution prominent among them—with saving the building. These two groups also banded together during the long fight to save the Old Capitol (JM12) after the New Capitol (JM16) was completed in 1903 and finally achieved their goal in 1916 when architect Theodore C. Link inspected the abandoned building and reported that it was feasible to renovate this “old and venerable friend” for state offices.

Also largely undertaken by women was a broader inventory by the Mississippi Art Association in History of Art in Mississippi (1929), which acknowledged recent architecture and included an analysis of Jackson’s 1920’s skyscrapers. Women’s leadership in the historic preservation movement continued as annual spring garden tours evolved into architectural pilgrimages, beginning in Natchez in 1932 and spreading to many towns across the state, including Port Gibson, Vicksburg, Carrollton, Aberdeen, Columbus, and Holly Springs. The garden clubs’ radical notion of preserving mansions through paid tours promoted by national advertising campaigns created an economic model applicable to the national preservation scene, now called heritage tourism. The pilgrimages received documentary support with the publication of the WPA Guide to Mississippi in 1938, with its section on architecture written by Natchez architect Beverley W. Martin, who had worked with A. Hays Town on the state’s HABS program earlier in the 1930s. In contrast to Mrs. Deupree, who focused on the families living in historic houses, Martin adopted a stylistic approach and attempted to synthesize a description of the “Southern Colonial” style in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH), founded in 1902 as an outgrowth of the Mississippi Historical Society, initially focused on archival collections; then in 1927 it established the Archaeological Survey of Mississippi. In 1959, MDAH undertook its first building restoration, converting the Old Capitol into the state’s historical museum. This project underscored the need for preservation professionals in the department, a need finally met when the Division of Historic Sites and Archaeology (now the Historic Preservation Division) was created in 1970 under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Tasked with surveying historic resources and nominating them to the National Register of Historic Places, MDAH maintains the Historic Resources Inventory, a public online GIS database of historic properties. MDAH also administers the Antiquities Law of Mississippi, which empowers the agency to designate any publicly owned building in the state as a Mississippi Landmark. This authority, along with a variety of preservation grant programs and local preservation ordinances in towns throughout the state, has resulted in the preservation and renovation of hundreds of local landmarks, including courthouses, schools, university buildings, and city halls.

Many of the buildings in this book are still standing because of the dedication of thousands of Mississippi preservationists over several generations, most of them as anonymous as the many unnamed artisans who erected the state’s landmarks. Their determination to save important places, from the Old Capitol to their local school to their hurricane-damaged house, is memorialized best in the historic buildings that survive to tell Mississippi’s stories.


For more information about the Mississippi Mound Trail, see http://trails.mdah.ms.gov.

William K. Scarborough, “Heartland of the Cotton Kingdom,” in A History of Mississippi, vol. 1, ed. Richard Aubrey McLemore (Jackson: University and College Press of Mississippi, 1973), 310–51.

Sean Farrell, “Not Just Farms Anymore: The Effects of World War II on Mississippi’s Economy,” Mississippi History Now, http://www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/articles/247/the-effects-of-world-war-II-on-mississippis-economy.

John N. Burrus, “Urbanization in Mississippi, 1890–1970,” in A History of Mississippi, vol. 2, ed. Richard Aubrey McLemore (Jackson: University and College Press of Mississippi, 1973), 346–73.

Quoted in Howell Raines, My Soul Is Rested: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South (New York: Penguin Books, 1977), 233–37.

Samuel S. Forman. Narrative of a Journey Down the Ohio and Mississippi in 1789–90 (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke, 1888), 53.

Clay Lancaster, “The American Bungalow,” in Common Places: Readings in American Vernacular Architecture, edited by Dell Upton and John Michael Vlach (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1986), 85–87.

“Architectural Practice in Jackson, MS,” Architectural Record 116 (September 1954), 141–52.

Mrs. N. D. Deupree, “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society 7 (1903): 334.

“Report of Mr. Theodore Link, Regarding His Investigation of the Old Capitol,” Journal of the Senate of the State of Mississippi (January–April 1916), 1621–24.

Caney Venable Sutton, ed. History of Art in Mississippi. (Gulfport, Miss.: Dixie Press, 1929).

Federal Writers’ Project, “Architecture,” in Mississippi: A Guide to the Magnolia State (New York: Viking Press, 1938), 142–56.

Mississippi Historic Resources Inventory (HRI) Database, http://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public.

Robert J. Bailey, “Preservation in the Past: A Brief History,” in Historic Preservation in Mississippi: A Comprehensive Plan, ed. Robert J. Bailey and Priscilla M. Lowrey, 39–71 (Jackson: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1975). For more information about MDAH and its Historic Preservation Division, see www.mdah.ms.gov.


Writing Credits

Jennifer V.O. Baughn and Michael W. Fazio with Mary Warren Miller

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