Cardinal Rules

in the branches

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The Gathering


Sitting at my desk early this morning, I heard the steadily increasing volume of birds…lots of birds.  (Everyone who remembers Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, with Tippi Hedren, knows what I am talking about here.)  I had just been out to put out seed, but hey, I knew those were not my cardinals making all that racket.  I glanced out the window and there they were–thousands of them.  I was standing in the driveway taking photographs when my son came out the door with an incredulous look on his face asking “What is this?  And why?”

Grackles.  Migration.  It will pass.

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Snow Day

cardinal 2.jpg

cardinal 3.jpg

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Carroll County Courthouse

Courthouse 2

Carrollton’s 1876 courthouse sits on the town square in the county seat of Carroll County, Mississippi.  For 13 years, I have driven past the exit to Carrollton from the Interstate 55 on numerous trips to and through Jackson.  Finally, last week I took the exit.  It was only 10 miles over to Carrollton, and although this was not my initial destination, it caught my attention and I temporarily paused my mission and pulled to park in one of the many spaces available around the square.

It was a beautiful day and the courthouse doors on all 4 entrances were thrown open, and people stood in the breeze created by the open central cross halls on the first floor, talking in small groups.  Architect James Clark Harris designed the building, with the court room occupying the second floor, and T. W. and A. Larmour Parker constructed the stucco-over-brick facility, completing it in 1878 (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory database).  A north wing annex was added circa 1935.  I speculated that the annex might have been funded by PWA or WPA, as courthouse improvements were among the many projects constructed with New Deal Administration programs, but I have found no documentation to that effect thus far.

Harris also designed and built Carrollton’s Stanhope, and several other “distinctive, eclectically detailed Houses of the 1870s” (Shoemaker & Halat, 1978), including The OaksColonel Helm House, and Captain Ray House .  Next up, a bit more about the history of this building, and perhaps, an update on that annex!


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Lamar Life Insurance Company

Lamar Life Insurance Co advertisement

Hattiesburg American, February 23, 1925, p. 6.

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Lamar Life Building

Lamar Life 2

The Lamar Life Building employs “a host of Gothic motifs and high crenellated clock tower” (William C. Allen, 1975, nomination form for National Register of Historic Places, Smith Park Architectural Historic District).  It was constructed in 1924-1925 as Jackson’s “first skyscraper” (Allen) and was designed by N. W. Overstreet (MDAH Historic Resources Inventory) and Sanquinet, Staats, and Hedrick of Fort Worth (Allen).  Builder was Sumner-Sollitt Company.

The 10-story building was remodeled in 1955, and in 1968, a “series of modern store fronts installed on first level” and are partially visible in the photograph below.  A two-story annex was added in 1928.  The company was named for L. Q. C. Lamar, a former Mississippi US senator, Secretary of the Interior in President Cleveland’s cabinet, and US Supreme Court Justice (Home office of Lamar Life world famous. Hattiesburg American, October 30, 1928, p. 86).Lamar Life building

Lamar Life Building

The Lamar Life Insurance building, the biggest and most awe-inspiring business structure to rear its head in all Mississippi, is now being occupied.

Erected at a cost of more than $600,000, the building is not only a credit to Jackson and to the state, but to the organization responsible for its existence…more than 5,000 persons passed through it during the three hours reception…the interior of the Lamar Life Insurance building at night looks like a Palace of the Gods. (Biggest office building taken formally over: Lamar Life Insurance accepts $600,000 structure, and holds public reception. Hattiesburg American, February 21, 1925, p. 6)

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How things look in Mississippi

Rio eyes

  1. Dog hair hip deep–R and J don’t vacuum.
  2. Everything precisely where I left it–“I didn’t know what to do with those sheets in the hamper in the hall.” You know, the dirty ones that came off the beds.
  3. I could go on, but you get the picture.

But, the sun is also shining, and my dog, the outside cats and the redbirds are all glad that I am back.  My sis, mom, and dad are all glad that I was there for 3 weeks.  And, tomorrow, “it starts all over again.”

And that’s how things look in Mississippi, for the moment at least.

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A Texas kind of Christmas

Rio 3

Rio and I have been busy these past weeks, but we will be back soon!

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Mount Pleasant, TN Post Office and Mural

Post Office Mount Pleasant TN-2

Mount Pleasant, Tennessee is another community that has–so far–retained its historic post office located near downtown.  According to J. Davis, C. Hankins, and C. Van West (2003), the Mt. Pleasant post office is

…considered one of the best examples of this design still extant in Tennessee.

Van West (2001) described it as a

…blend of modernist elements with an overall symmetrical shape reminiscent of the state’s other Colonial Revival post offices.

The “modernist” influence is evident in the canopy over the door, the window design, and the brick insets below the windows. The shape and eagle sculpture, along with the traditional wooden entry vestibule and marble wainscoting in the interior lobby reflect the typical design of these post offices from that period.  It was one of some 200 post offices constructed by the Federal Works Agency in smaller communities across the United States in 1940.  It also houses a mural, completed with funds from the Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture, 1934-1943.  It was renamed the Section of Fine Arts in 1938.

Eugene Higgins was born in Missouri in 1874.  His parents were Irish immigrants and his father was a stone cutter.  Higgins studied at the Academie Julian and Ecole des Beaux-Arts, both in Paris (Williams American Art and Antiques, 2015).  He worked primarily in the New York area, although his studio was located in Lyme, Connecticut (Smithsonian American Art Museum).

The post office celebrated 75 years in Mt. Pleasant in November.  Current postmaster, Robert Wakefield, reported  the files contained a letter from Higgins, and “he was coming to install the painting” (Post office celebrates 75 years in Mt. Pleasant, November 15, 2015, Columbia Daily Herald).

Although Higgins was considered a “social realist” in subject matter depicting the poor, his work was also influenced by European styles.

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Old Salem Elementary School

elementary building

The Old Salem Elementary School was completed in 1952, and was part of the Old Salem School Complex for African Americans in Benton County, north Mississippi, near the Tennessee border.  Old Salem High School and Vocational Building were constructed by the National Youth Administration in 1941, and neither building is extant.

Dr. John Elon Phay, Professor of Educational Administration, Director of the Bureau of Education Research at the University of Mississippi,  completed photographic research of Mississippi schools, beginning in the 1940s, including the Old Salem Complex.  Dr. Phay’s research examined the pre-integration conditions of selected elementary and high schools.  Exterior and interior photographs of the schools at the highlighted link illustrate the complex in 1956, including the building pictured above.

While researching the Old Salem and Hickory Flat schools, I found the Hill Country Project for Benton County.  There is so much we have not yet documented, so it is always exciting to locate a project like this, and the women and men who volunteer and make it happen.  Go visit, please, and make a donation to support the work.

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