Sunday, January 31, 2010

Deconstruction, Johnson Street, Vicksburg, MS

Johnson Street runs from Washington Street east down a hill steeply and then turns right and joins Lee near the Vicksburg High School football field. Like may other streets in town, it follows the crest of a loess ridge, the only practical pathway in a complicated topography. In the 1980s, this was a vibrant neighborhood with a church and tens of houses. Over the years, most of the shotgun shacks have been demolished, and today, I think there only five houses are occupied.

The Vicksburg Post recently printed a list of houses on the City's demolition list, which inspired me to record them. The first Johnson Street property on the list was 723, which is perched precariously over the gully. This was a common practice in the early 1900s. Because streets ran along the ridges, houses were built with the front door approximately at ground level while the rear of the house was supported with posts high over the gully below.

Most of the condemned houses are pretty rough. The City demolishes them and places a lien on the owner to cover the cost. Over time, more and more lots are being cleared off - deconstruction. Family members in other states and countries find it hard to believe that there is no demand for the land.

The MB church has an engraved cornerstone which states that the congregation first organized in 1863. I met a gent in a nicely-painted house near the church who pointed out places where shotgun shacks formerly stood. No. 753 below is the last of this architectural style left on Johnson. Someone is repairing it.

The following two houses, nos 715 and 751, are still occupied. The neighborhood was quiet and there were birds everywhere.

All photographs taken on 31 January, 2010 with a Sony DSC-R1 camera, tripod-mounted.

Update July 30, 2011: Here is a 2007 photograph of the cheerful blue house at 752 Johnson.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say that I do like that the city takes the initiative to get rid of decaying homes, but at the same time, I feel bad for the unfortunate owners that may not be able to afford the costs the city burdens on them