Art Moderne in Jackson Municipal Utilities

jea front elevation

I spotted this Art Moderne building on the south edge of Jackson, Tennessee on our recent trip to Nashville. [Note: The angular curve is a result of taking a panoramic view to capture the entire building; it is actually constructed as a small rectangular box, as you can see in the following photographs.] Although I can find no definitive proof yet, there is evidence it was related to the New Deal Administration and the development of TVA after Tennessee converted to publicly owned utilities in 1939.  West Tennessee Power and Light was a privately owned utility company, and was involved in a six-year court battle with TVA.  An agreement was finally reached in 1939 between the New Deal Administration and West Tennessee Power and Light, and TVA purchased electrical properties in Tennessee in the move to public ownership (Jackson Sun, Feb. 5, 1939, p. 10).

side elevation with screen

There is no signage as to the building’s purpose, but it resembles PWA Moderne pumping stations in Los Angeles.  Ernest Taylor was Commissioner of Public Utilities in 1939, and in running for re-election in 1943, his campaign statement identified the status of utilities and accomplishments in and after 1939:

…Water Pumping Station was under process of being constructed” [in 1939]. Jackson Sun, Mar. 3, 1943, p. 2)

Other news items in the Jackson Sun 1939 described a PWA contract for cooling fans for new substations, and remodeling of the city water plant.  One sub-station was to be located near the city’s water works plant in south Jackson.  The original Chalybeate Well and adjacent water plant were north of this building.

Possibly this was connected with the pumping station, or it might have been one of the sub-stations for cooling fans connected with the TVA electric power distribution.  The photograph below seems to indicate some type of storage capacity, and the screens on the building would facilitate ventilation of fans.

water supply

Please leave a comment if you know of anything else about the history of this building.

This entry was posted in Art Moderne, New Deal Administration and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Art Moderne in Jackson Municipal Utilities

  1. Sheryl says:

    You’ve raised a lot of intriguing questions about the building. I hope that you are able to confirm its relationship to the New Deal Administration.


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