Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jackson Street Branch YMCA, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Long-time residents of Vicksburg will remember that the YMCA once had two branches in town. The main facility was the handsome brick building at 821 Clay Street (see the 2010 article for interior photographs). A prominent local citizen, Mrs. Junius Ward, provided funds for this structure as a memorial to her husband.  But this was the era of segregation, so Mrs. Ward generously provided funds for a separate YMCA building on Jackson Street for African-American men. The Jackson Street Branch opened in 1924 and remained in service until the early 1990s. It was demolished in 1995 to make way for a new community center (the formal address is 923 Walnut Street).
As the photographs show, the Jackson Street branch was a handsome and formal 2-floor brick building with "1924" engraved in the panel above the entry door.  I do not know if it had residence rooms like the ones in the Clay Street branch.
I never went inside while it was in operation, but took photographs when it was being demolished.
Interior view of auditorium, taken during demolition.  Leica M3 with 135mm Tele-Elmar lens.
Photograph taken with a Leica M3 and the 8-element 35 mm f/2 Summicron-RF lens.
The gymnasium once occupied a big section of the building. Up through the 1970s, the famous Red Tops held rehearsals every Monday evening at the Jackson Street Y, possibly in this space. As you can see, construction was substantial. I often wonder why the wood beams and bricks were not recycled rather than just crushed and trucked away.
Finally, here is another interesting structure, a remnant of the architecture that once dominated Vicksburg. This Victorian building is at 916 Walnut Street. In 1992, it was used by the Elks Club, but another fraternal organization occupies it now. As of 2013, it is on the City's condemned list.

The first photograph was taken with a Pentax Spotmatic camera with 150 mm Super-Takumar lens on Kodachrome 25 film. Black and white photographs taken with a Leica M3 rangefinder camera with 35mm f/2.0 Summicron-RF lens (the famous first generation 8-element version) and 135mm Tele-Elmar lens on Kodak Tri-X film. The square frames were taken with a Rolleiflex 3.5E camera on Kodak VPS HC film (another great emulsion that is now gone).

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