Sunday, November 22, 2020

Lost Architecture, Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg, Mississippi

Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard in Vicksburg was formerly known as Old Jackson Road. It ran along a ridge crest and was once lined with tens or maybe over a hundred cottages. Some of them had their front doors at street level but the backs were perched over the hillsides on stilts, often quite precarious-looking. This road has occupied this approximate right-of-way since the Civil War, and many of the cottages may have been from the late-1800s or early 20th century. In the last decade, many houses been lost to fire or neglect. I have photographed along here over the years. This quick survey is oriented from downtown heading east, so the house numbers will increase. (Click any photograph to see more detail.)
1404 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
This little cottage at 1404 was occupied when I photographed it in 2014, but it definitely looked precarious. As of 2020, the house is still standing but the center is curving downward even more.
1412 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
1412 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
1412 MLK Jr. interior (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
This old cottage at 1412 once had a fireplace for a stove insert, probably a coal stove. Being a railroad town, coal was readily available.
1416 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
This big cottage is probably late-1800s vintage. I think it was occupied when I took the picture in 2015, but the boarded windows were a bit perplexing. These were once floor-to-ceiling windows, very handsome. As of 2020, the house is standing and the windows have been uncovered.
1499 MLK Jr (Panasonic G-1 digital file converted to B&W, 5cm ƒ/2 Leitz Summitar lens)
1499 was a pink house almost across the street from the old Kuhn Charity Hospital. The house was demolished around 2013. The Kuhn hospital has also been totally demolished.
1618 MLK, Jr., Blvd. (Kodak Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM, 80mm ƒ/2.8 Planar-CB lens)
No. 1618 is one of a diminishing number of shotgun houses. Vicksburg, like other southern towns, probably had dozens or hundreds of these little houses in the early 20th century, but one by one, they have been torn down.


1705 MLK Jr. rear view (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
This is the back of a small house at 1705. The trash was tossed down the hillside.
1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file converted to B&W)
Interior room in 1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Books in 1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Kudzu mountain and 1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Basement 1711 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
1711 was a handsome cottage up on one of Vicksburg's many loess ridges. The rear of the house was over the hill and supported by rather precarious-looking brick pillars. There was enough headroom in the crawl space for a sink and (maybe) a residence room? A student left his/her books behind. As of 2020, the kudzu has engulfed the entire lot where the house once stood.
1756 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
Side entrance, 1756 MLK Jr. (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
1756 was an example of a house whose front porch was at street ground level but whose rear was perched over the hill. On this house, concrete blocks had been added as a basement wall, but the original supports were likely wood piles. In Vicksburg, these houses can remain occupied as long as they are in maintained condition. But if the house is condemned, the land changes zoning status where no future house can be erected.
1826 MLK, Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg (Fomapan 100 Classic film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
This house at 1826 looked reasonably sound, but the lack of an electric meter meant it was unoccupied (or at least had no electricity).
1832 MLK, Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg (Fomapan 100 Classic film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
This house with concrete cladding (to resemble limestone blocks) is still standing but has the notation from the city inspector spray-pained on the front. .
1844 MLK., Jr., Blvd. (Tri-X 400 film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
1900 MLK., Jr., Blvd (fire damage) (Fomapan 100 Classic film, Fuji GW 690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
This fire-damaged house at 1900 sat unrepaired for a long time. Status: unknown.
1904 MLK, Jr., Blvd, Vicksburg 
1917 MLK, Jr., Blvd (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
1920 MLK, Jr. Blvd (Fuji X-E1 digital file)
2228 MLK Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg (Tri-X 400 film, Fuji GW690II camera, 90mm ƒ/3.5 lens)
2228 MLK Jr., Blvd., Vicksburg (Tri-X 400 film, Pentax Spotmatic camera, 35mm ƒ/3.5 Super-Takumar lens)
This duplex at 2228 is right next to historic Beulah Cemetery. This part of the road once had access into the Vicksburg National Military Park, but this entrance has been closed for decades. As of September 2020, the house was still standing and the pillars had cheerful turquoise paint.
Beulah Cemetery (Panatomic-X film, Hasselblad 501CM, 50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens)
Beulah Cemetery was neglected for many years, but now the City maintains it. This was from a rare snow day in 2017.

Dear readers, this has been a short tour of historic MLK, Jr. Blvd (Openwood Road). I have more photographs among my color Kodachrome slides, but they will wait for a future effort at scanning. I will show more lost Vicksburg architecture in future articles.

3 comments:

Jim Grey said...

These are terrific photos. I wish now I'd photographed the houses just north of the neighborhood I grew up in, as half of them are demolished now. It would have been valuable to have photos of the neighborhood still intact.

Kodachromeguy said...

Thank you, Jim. We drive by ordinary sights every day and do not think about them. Then they change or are torn down, and we can't really remember what they looked like. People travel to tourist sites and take pictures of the monuments or palaces, just as millions of tourists did before. Decade after decade (century after century), those monuments remain. But it is the common places where you live that need to be recorded. Cheers!

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