Friday, January 13, 2023

Semi-Demolished 1800s House on Clay Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Kodak Super-XX film, 135mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar-S II lens
Kodak Super-xx film, 90mm ƒ/6.8 Angulon lens, 1/2 at ƒ/22.5

Two tall wood houses formerly stood on the north side of Clay Street in downtown Vicksburg just west of the former Clay & LaHatte Appliance store. The west-most house (the grassy lot in the foreground of the photograph above) formerly housed Ocean and Coastal Technologies, a marine engineering company. That building suffered a fire and was demolished about 15 years ago. The second house at 915 was a rental unit with five or six apartments. The roof was collapsing as of 2021 and possibly earlier. That sealed its fate. One day in early summer of 2022, I saw a work crew at the house and I knew the house's demise was ongoing.

I like the old-fashioned front door with the lights to either side and a transom above. I hope the demolition company saved it for reuse. 

View west from Cherry Street.
Time to cook dinner

The original demolition crew stopped work part way through their project. The partly-deconstructed remnants of the house lingered for about 6 months. Then, in early September, heavy equipment crushed the rest. As of October 1, 2022, the house was entirely gone. 

The next building uphill (to the east) was the former home of Wells & LaHatte appliances. They have moved across the street to a larger building. This handsome sign is a classic.

We have lost many other Victorian-era houses. One example that I photographed in 2017 was on Finney Street. Smaller cottages (e.g., on Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.) are also being demolished as they decay. 

This is how Vicksburg loses its architectural heritage. 

I took the color frames with my Fuji X-E1 digital camera. The Fuji lenses all have excellent resolution. The two black and white photographs are from 4×5" Kodak Super-XX film.


Jim Grey said...

Shame about that house. I suppose if the city's fortunes were to recover, more of these old houses could be saved. Downtown Indianapolis experienced a resurgence in the 2000-2010 decades that has led to surrounding neighborhoods that were formerly in steep decline to once again be attractive places to live. said...

You are right, Jim, if only the city would revive downtown, more of these houses would be restored and inhabited. Some of the historic warehouses along Washington Street are now loft apartments, but the older wood houses tend to be rented out and fall further and further down the food chain until it is too late.

Suzassippi said...

That was indeed a nice entrance. Unless they were being paid to salvage good items, my guess is it ended up in the trash pile with other pieces. said...

Suzassippi, you are probably right. The entry was likely squashed by the tractor. Years ago, I saved some 7-ft doors from some old houses that were being demolished. I used to replace two doors in my house that had been discarded by previous residents. The originals were mahogany-faced, and someone threw them out. Yes, really.

SouthernGardenLady said...

I absolutely love reading your posts... I am such a huge history lover and it amazing to see how many people who love these older historic places. I think that so many times many of these special places could be saved and worked on a little at a time as could be afforded to do so. If I could do so, I would love to do that one day. Even if it took me years and years, I would love to see historic places and homes saved. Thanks so much for posting and for everyone else who shares the love of all things historic!! said...

Thank you, GardenLady, for the kind words. These fine older houses can be saved, but there are so many problems:

1. Many have been allowed to run down too far.
2. Many became rental units rather than remain as single family homes.
3. Even if single owner, Vicksburg is not a rich town, and many have been neglected too long. Repairs were often shoddy and haphazard. I have found that the original construction was invariably of a much higher grade than additions made by "my uncle the carpenter" or whoever.
4. Compare with Seattle, Houston, Newburyport: standards of maintenance and upkeep are pretty grim here.
5. Vicksburg's downtown may be slowly reviving, but it is slow and meanwhile, time, weather, and neglect take their toll.