Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Possible Repair of the Hinds County Armory, Jackson, Mississippi

The last time I inspected the Hinds County Armory in 2010, it was a wet mess with rain pouring through the decayed roof and soggy debris and mud on the floor.  It was a disgrace.  The Preservation in Mississippi blog documented in 2009 how the armory had been shamefully neglected.  But possibly this historic building will not succumb to the elements.  In July of 2012, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History secured a $600,000 grant from the Federal government to complete some critical repairs and preserve the historic Gothic Revival building.  According to WLBT News, the funds will be used, ""Initially to stabilize it, put a new roof on it and then stabilize the walls and then the funds will allow to clean the inside of it and on the outside of it make it look like a handsome building again," said H.T. Holmes, the Director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History."

Hinds County Armory, northeast corner.

The shell was sober and sturdy.  Note the Gothic architectural details like the arched doors and the roofline with a pseudo-parapet.


I sneaked (snuck) in and watched workmen tearing out the roof and debris.  This is a major effort.  Will $600,000 be enough to clean out the debris, stabilize the shell, and install a new roof?  We hope so.  At least we have not lost this handsome building.

Photographs taken with a Panasonic G3 digital camera, with RAW files processed with Photo Ninja.

July 2, 2013 Update:  This morning, a fire broke out in the armory.  Cause and extent of damage are still unknown,
Photograph by Joe Ellis, Jackson Clarion Ledger newspaper.  Here is the article. Fortunately, the damage was not too severe.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Mississippi Delta 16: Highway 1

Highway 1 is the westernmost highway in the Mississippi Delta, running along the mainline levee in some places and connecting small farming towns as it traces its lonely path from a junction with US 49 south of Tunica through Greenville and south on towards Onward.  This will be a short tour going from north to south.

It is quiet near Rena Lara, about an hour north of Greenville.  Even on a Saturday evening, there is little traffic.  Summer must be blazing hot.

The day had been gloomy and overcast, with snow flurries.  But just at dusk, the sun burst through and illuminated this odd little taco stand with an burst of  brilliance.  This was at the junction with Alligator-Hillhouse Road.
Proceed south, and you reach Beulah.  It is really quiet there, and this handsome St. Peters MB Church is on a side road.  The day I stopped, a gent told me the bell came from an old steamboat.  This photograph is a scan of a Kodachrome 25 slide taken with a Leica camera.
We will stop in Benoit in a future article.  Just a bit north of Greenville is a cluster of houses called Lamont.  This small church was on the east side of Hwy 1.
We will also leave Greenville for a future article.  Highway 1 leading south out of town is the "strip," with gasoline stations, shops, fast food poison emporiums, and miscellaneous buildings. There is really not much of interest to see except for the occasional shed.
About 10 miles south of Greenville, some deserted farm worker houses still stand. This one has the classic shotgun shack proportions.




This cottage must have been in use within a decade before I photographed it in 2005.  Was the child who owned this bicycle sad to lose it?

Finally, just off 1 on Hwy 14, west of Rolling Fork, is this old store. It has been empty since the mid-1990s, when  I first started driving this way.  This temporarily ends our tour of the Delta. Greenville and Rolling Fork will be the subjects of future articles.  (March 2014 update: the store is gone.)

The black and white photographs were scans of Kodak Panatomic-X film, shot through a Fuji GW690II 6x9 medium format camera.  I developed the Panatomic film in Agfa Rodinol developer at 1:50 dilution.  I processed the 2013 digital photographs with Photo Ninja software.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Mississippi Delta 15: Sherard

Continuing our tour of the Mississippi Delta:  drive west out of Clarksdale along Highway 322 (also called Sherard Road), and at the junction of 322 and Highway 1 sits a cluster of houses, trailers, and an abandoned cotton gin.  This is (or was) Sherard.

On 322, here is another small church.  I assume the Pastor's home is attached to the back.


The gin is abandoned. That's sad because I am sure it was once one of the major sources of revenue in a small town.


The J.F. Sherard company's buildings were at the junction of Highways 322 and 1.  A Google search lists the company as a supplier of farm equipment with a current address in Clarksdale.  The buildings were sound, so probably had not been empty for too many years.

The tiny steel shed was rather neat.  It is hard to tell what it might have once housed.

All photographs taken with a Panasonic G1 digital camera with Panasonic Lumix 20 mm f/1.7 lens.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Mississippi Delta 14: Hollandale

Travel north on Highway 61 from Rolling Fork, and the next "big" town that you reach is Hollandale. According to Wikipedia, the town was almost totally burned in 1904, so I assume most of the buildings you see in the downtown strip are newer.

City Drug on Hwy 12 (Washington Street), Hollandale
There was once a cheerful and prosperous commercial strip.  I left these photographs of the City Drug Store in color because the tones and textures were mellow in the evening light.

Hitghway 12 (Washington Street), Hollandale
The strip is mostly boarded up.  But you can see that the merchants were proud of their buildings in the early 20th century.  I met a couple who said they were trying to bring art and cultural tourists to Hollandale.  They were hoping to entice people on blues tours to stop. The big problem: lack of amenities like restaurants.
I am not sure how this big wood mansion was once used - a rooming house possibly?
Abandoned oil mill west of Hollandale
Abandoned oil mill, Hollandale
Just west of the railroad tracks, the oil mill is deserted.

Finally, here is a small church on Highway 61.  It is in nice condition, but much of the rest of town is forlorn.

This is a photograph of the "Y and M. V. R. R. Station, Hollandale, Miss. 4-30-27" from the Mississippi Department of archives and History.  A vast area of the Delta was flooded in 1927.

Modern photographs taken with a Panasonic G1 digital camera.  For the square frames, I processed the RAW files with Photo Ninja software.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Mississippi Delta 13: Anguilla

Anguilla is a cluster of houses and some trees on Highway 61 (the Blues Highway) just a couple of miles north of Rolling Fork, Mississippi.  South of town are some farm road that intersect 61, and on one one of these, Southdale Road, stands a classic rural wooden church.

The Southdale Church is unused now but is still in decent condition.  There are dozens of churches like this scattered across the Delta.


Turn around and face north, and you can see why the Delta was so famous for its rich soil. And most of it is a flat, with only a few Indian mounds and some natural river levees to break the horizon.

A few years ago, I photographed this deserted farm workers' house somewhere in Anguilla, but I can't recall the exact location.  Many of these isolated houses are now empty and slowly crumbling and decaying.  A legacy of our past is disappearing.

2013 photographs taken with a Panasonic G1 camera with 14-45 mm lens, tripod-mounted.