Friday, October 17, 2014

Hedy Does the Vicksburg Photowalk

Hedy does not get out often. She is very cranial and usually stays home and ponders the great topics of the day. But a chance to participate on the Worldwide Photowalk was just too good to miss. And who would not want to tour the metropolis of Vicksburg on a hot muggy day in company with other photographers?
We started out at the Old Courthouse Museum at 1008 Cherry Street. The museum is full of Vicksburg historical exhibits, and many early 20th century photographs taken by J Mack Moore are on display. Hedy likes the Corinthian columns and the view.
Even being only a head, Hedy occasionally needs to use the facilities.
Right across Cherry Street (address 1009 Cherry Street) is the Art Deco Warren County Courthouse. According to Mississippi Department of Archives and History:
The Warren County Court House, of Art Deco design, was constructed in 1940 with Havis & Havis as architects and W.J. McGee & Son as the general contractors. The rectangular three-story building features eleven bays on the first floor of the main stepped facade. Ornamental detailing includes decorative panels of floral and geometric designs, decorated parapet around the flat roof, and the decorated lintel of the window surrounds head. The verticality of this building, which is studded with relatively narrow windows of eight lights each rising vertically and one above the other on each successive floor in the central section, is emphasized by tall, rectangular panels of marble. 
Continuing north on Cherry Street near the junction with Main Street, and you are in the historic district.
Adams Street runs parallel to Cherry, but many of the houses are in rough shape. The pavement retained its brick surfacing.
This is an example, the cottage at 722 Adams. I hope someone restores it.
This is the old McIntyre elementary school, closed for decades. The Good Shepard organization uses most of the building.
Adams Lane is perpendicular to Adams Street. It formerly was lined with shotgun shacks, but there are only 3 or 4 left. Years ago, while taking photos here, an older lady told me that she remembered when it was a vibrant neighborhood. A truck would come around in the morning and the men would ride off to farms. Most of the women worked as domestics around town.
Around the corner at 1203 Openwood Street is the former Gore's Hardware. This is a well-preserved example of a late-1800s commercial building, of which Vicksburg once had hundreds. Look at the seven windows and the decorative trim along the roof line. The brick facade above the showcase windows was supported by cast iron beams, possibly brought here by barge from Pittsburgh or Toledo. Now we erect mass-produced sheet steel buildings designed to be a tax write-off in a minimum number of  years.
Mr. Gore passed away in 2014, and it appears that someone is cleaning up the stock in the former store. It was always said that he had every type of old-fashioned fitting, lock, or faucet in his storage rooms, although I was unable to buy suitable materials for my old house. Maybe the really old-fashioned fittings were used-up by the 1980s. I wonder if there is any lead paint left?
Hedy gets hungry when she passes Mamma's at 1209 Openwood Street.
Here is another interesting place on Openwood Street.
Across the street is an old filling station, now used as a repair shop (I think). The Vicksburg Art Association's Firehouse Gallery is in  the brick building to the right.
Head back to Cherry Street and head south. At 1411 Cherry is a brick building that formerly housed the Mutual Credit Union. JC's Barber Shop now uses one of the rooms.
This one interior view of the gorgeous Church of the Holy Trinity at 900 South Street. At the corner of South and Monroe Streets, it was designed by E.C. Jones and built in 1870. This was an experiment setting my Fuji camera at ISO 1600 and using the dynamic range function at 400 percent. I was surprised how well it handled the exposure range from dark pews to glowing windows.
Finally, time for lunch. Hedy had a sandwich at Martin's at Midtown, at 1411 Belmont Street. It was muggy and hot, and we were both tired. Hedy is too young for a cold beer.

Photographs taken during the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk, hosted here in Vicksburg by David Rorick. I used a Fuji X-E1 digital camera. These are the jpeg files taken with the Astia film emulation.

Please click the link for some views of Vicksburg in the 1990s, taken with film.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Vicksburg in the Old Days (the '90s)

No, not the 1890s, the 1990s. I recently rummaged through some of my negatives and was horrified that they were already 20 years old. I suppose you are officially an old geezer when you think something is not particularly old but your co-workers would consider them so 20th century or so non-digital (you mean, like chemical-based?). This "old days" post will consist of a semi-random walk around Vicksburg.
This is Ryan's Coal Yard Package Store, at the corner of North Washington Street and First East. The building was torn down sometime in the early 2000s. At one time, this (or a predecessor building) was a coal yard. It was right next to the railroad tracks, and most homes heated with coal before the 1930s. (Trivia fact: Coal fires caused cinders that occasionally escaped from chimneys. Therefore, most older homes were re-roofed with asbestos shingles in the 1920s and '30s because the asbestos was fire-proof.) This is a Tri-X frame taken with a Nikon F3 camera.
This is the warehouse right across the street from the Ryan Coal Yard. The place is empty and for sale now. The Fina gasoline station in the distance is where Klondike restaurant is now located.
Here are three shotgun shacks, possibly off Clay Street. Many of these have been torn down in the last two decades.
This is the old commercial building at 719 Grove Street. It was condemned for over a year but is now being restored. This is a Polaroid Type 54 instant print taken with a 90mm Ektar lens on a 4×5" Tachihara camera.
Right across Grove Street from the commercial block was the Vicksburg Steam Laundry. It was formed in 1910 and closed some time before 1985. The laundry was in the building that housed the first commercial Coca-Cola bottling plant in the country. The building burned in the early 1990s. The rumor is that someone started to redevelop it but found asbestos, so instead torched it. That way, the fire department took care of the problem by washing the asbestos down the storm drains.
The Jackson Street YMCA was demolished in 1995. It was built in 1924 and served the African American community. When it was built, YMCAs were segregated. Notice "Boys' Entrance" above the door. Now, the  Jackson Street Community Center, address 923 Walnut Street, occupies this lot.
Heading south along the river, this is the Riverview Motel at 4009 Washington Street. The site is an empty lot now. This is a Polaroid 4x5" sepia instant print.
This view south along Washington Street looks about the same today. The old motel that resembles a barracks is still in business.
Back to Clay Street, this is the Junius Ward YMCA at 821 Clay. It has been closed for a decade, but I have seen some renovation going on a a slow pace.
The residence halls in the "Y" were last used in the late 1970s. On contemporary standards, they were rather basic, but served as temporary residence for hundreds of men who moved to Vicksburg.
Further east, this is the lot next to the old Vicksburg Ford at 2704 Clay Street. The garage (on the right) now houses TD's Tires. The apartments at the back are an odd architectural design, suspended between telephone posts driven into the ground. The apartments are occupied by a mixed clientele.
Turn around 180 degrees and look north; the old Mercy Hospital was a block away. It may have been named Parkview in 1996, but I can't remember. The little cottage at the very left, facing Clay Street, may have been the home of J. Mack Moore, the photographer who took hundreds of photographs of Vicksburg in the late 1800s and early 20th century. Mack Moore coated his own glass plates and used a large format camera. When the house was demolished, stacks of his glass negatives were found in the basement, and he had recycled some for use as window panes. The collection is now housed at the Old Court House Museum.
Proceed north on North Washington about 5 miles and you reached Margaret's Gro, which the Reverend Dennis had converted to his temple to God.
The Reverend had a creative streak with bricks, paint, wood, Styrofoam, and anything else he could glue or cement in place. He told me that he learned his brick skills from German bricklayers. He had been a prison guard for World War II prisoners and learned from his charges. Even as late as the 2000s, German tourists came to see Margaret's Gro. (Another trivia item: Germans soldiers were terrified of American black soldiers because of the gruesome stories they had been told by their propaganda machine. Therefore, they tended to be pretty docile when guarded by black soldiers.)
In February, 1989, an ice storm knocked down power lines all over Mississippi. Some parts of Vicksburg were without electricity for almost a week. This is a view of Drummond Street.
Here are two more views of the 1989 ice storm. These are scans of 4×5" Polaroid Type 54 film.

In the future, I will scan more negatives.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kuhn Memorial Hospital: the Upper Floors

Dear Readers, the old Kuhn Memorial Hospital at 1422 Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard is such a mess, I could not resist showing some photographs from the upper floors. On my own, I have been reluctant to venture into the wreck alone, but some friends joined me and showed me around.
To get to the roof, you walk up some steep steps from the third floor and emerge from a turret. It is a standard graveled industrial roof, now in poor condition. The water tower to the west is in use by City of Vicksburg.
This is the view north towards MLK, Jr., Blvd. (formerly known as Openwood Road). The 2-floor house is very old, possibly Civil War era, and is in poor condition.
This is the building on MLK Blvd. I took this frame with a Leica M2 camera with 50mm f/2 Dual-Range Summicron lens.
 The poison ivy grows all the way up to the roof. That is how nature takes over.
The patient rooms on the upper floors in the 1959 wing were probably reasonably cheerful (for a hospital) in their day.
There was once a dumbwaiter to carry food to the upper floors. Notice the sturdy ceramic-glazed tiles.
This was one of the autopsy tables with a convenient drain in the base. My friends said they can detect paranormal activity in this room. I can't, but I am rather oblivious to vibrations and voices.
These cheerful rooms with south exposure were right down the hall from the autopsy room. I suppose that was convenient.
Back down on the first floor was the room with the cadaver refrigerator. Only two stalls in this one. Maybe the upper bin was for bits and pieces?
This was the hall leading in from the ambulance entry on the west side. The cadaver room was just off to the left.
On the ground floor out back, there was long room with a fireplace. We thought it might have been a doctors' lounge, but my friend later learned it was a solarium for patients. The open portico is turning to jungle.
This room, just behind the solarium, is collapsing.
Finally, here is one of two huge boilers. I am surprised no one has tried to cut it up for the scrap metal, but it may be too massive.

Urban spelunkers, if you want to look at Kuhn, do it soon. The decay is advancing so quickly, the City will have to act on a demolition within the next few years. And, they may have to secure the site prevent someone being injured (and, as you know, suing the City). On September 29, 2013, the Mississippi Business Journal wrote,
VICKSBURG — The city of Vicksburg has given the owner of a 54-year-old building that once housed the Kuhn Memorial Hospital, once one of Mississippi’s three charity hospitals, 120 days to decide its fate.
The Vicksburg Post reports that the order was issued this week by city building and inspection director Victor Gray-Lewis.
The order came after a Sept. 18 hearing held on the property. No one from Ester Stewart Buford Foundation of Yazoo City, which owns the property, or Long Land Investments of Lauderdale County or Adair Asset Management LLC/U.S. Bank showed up, Gray-Lewis said. The hearing was not open to the public.
Long Land acquired the property at the 2011 county tax sale. Adair got it at the 2012 tax sale. Neither has redeemed the property.
“Someone’s going to have to fix it or take it down,” Gray-Lewis said. “They can’t leave it as it is.”
If no action is taken after 120 days, he said, he will take the matter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for a recommendation.
If the property owners do not take action, Gray-Lewis said, the city can decide to demolish the building, which he said is expensive. Under the state’s slum clearance law, the city can sell the cleared property to recover the cost of demolition.
“I hope it won’t come to that,” he said.
The hospital was closed in 1989 along with two other charity hospitals in Meridian and Laurel.
The hospital was built in 1959 on 12.8 acres. The building was given to the city in 1990. While the city owned it, a Louisiana company proposed renovating the building as a 118-bed adolescent psychiatric facility, but the plan fell through.
In 1996, the city sold the property to Frank Lassiter of Lassiter Associates in Baton Rouge, La. Lassiter proposed using the building as an assisted living facility and clinic. The project, he said, would employ 100 to 150 people.
The property was sold in 2000 to Bob Pitts, who donated it to the Esther Stewart Buford Foundation the next year.
If you are interested in black and white photographs, please click here.

Kuhn Hospital is becoming popular. The Tennessee Paranormal Society came to visit.

The extra-wide angle photographs in today's tour are from a Panasonic G3 camera with the Olympus 9-18mm lens for micro 4/3 mount, all tripod-mounted. The other frames were from a Fuji X-E1 camera with the Fuji 27mm lens. All RAW files processed with PhotoNinja software.