10 MOST LISTS


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The goal of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places program list is to raise awareness about the most threatened historic places in Mississippi and the dangers they are facing which could lead to their destruction.


"Each of the endangered places holds a special place in our collective memory and helps to define who we are as a people, as a culture, as a state. The importance of their continued preservation cannot be overstated. We need these places so that our children's children will understand who they are."

  

- Thomas S. Howorth

Past President, Mississippi Heritage Trust

 

 

 

 

 

 

2005

10 Most Endangered Historic Places List Unveiled

The 2005 list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places was unveiled on April 21st at the newly restored Union Train Station in downtown Jackson.  The 10 Most list is produced by the Mississippi Heritage Trust as a way to help raise awareness about the most historically significant threatened places in the state.

Morgan Freeman and Bill Luckett were Honorary Chairs for the event and unveiled the new photographic exhibit of the 10 Most list while Walt Grayson announced the sites on the new list. After the unveiling Morgan Freeman and Bill Luckett were recognized for their work in Clarksdale to preserve historic sites such as an early 1900s commercial building which now houses the Ground Zero Blues Club. 

 

2005 10 Most Endangered sites:

click on the name to view photos and

more information about each site

Bryant Grocery and Meat Market - Money

Flannegan-Lowry House - Jackson

Jackson Municipal Library - Jackson

Natchez College - Natchez

Old Bridgeport Road - Bolton

(old) Pascagoula High School - Pascagoula

Sun-n-Sand Motor Hotel - Jackson

Tippah County Jail - Ripley

Wilkes Home - Wilkesburg

(Old) Woodmen of the World Building

(Harrison-Whitfield Building) - Columbus

 


Bryant Grocery and Meat Market

circa 1910

Money, Mississippi (Leflore County) 

 

Click photo to enlarge

 

This simple two-story brick store seems unassuming, standing beside the highway in a small Delta crossroads town.  But the events that swirled around the building in August 1955 invigorated the modern civil rights movement.

 

On a hot summer day, Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago visiting his family in the Delta, came into the Bryant Grocery and Meat Market to buy candy, and while there he allegedly offended Carolyn Bryant, the wife of the white owner.  The content of Till’s remarks or whether he whistled flirtatiously at Carolyn is not clear to this day, but Bryant left the store, and Till and his friends fled, fearing a violent confrontation.  Two nights later, Till was kidnapped from the house where he was staying, and he disappeared; his mutilated body was found in the nearby Tallahatchie River several days later.  This may have been just another murder of a black boy in the Mississippi Delta, except that Till’s mother in Chicago publicized the atrocity and insisted on opening Emmett’s coffin for the world to witness the cruelty of his murderers.  Carolyn Bryant’s husband Roy and his brother J.W. were arrested almost immediately after the discovery of Emmett’s body, but the sudden attention from outside the state prompted a rally around the two men, and they were acquitted on the murder charge.  The Bryant brothers, both of whom are now dead, later boasted to the press that they had killed Till.  The Till incident helped to spark the civil rights movement and gave Rosa Parks the courage to begin the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama by refusing to give up her seat to a white man.

 

The Bryant Store today is in very bad repair—the roof and second floor have collapsed into the building and the remnants of the porch are hanging precariously on the front of the building.  For now, the exterior walls are still standing, and with restoration the site could memorialize this small event that spawned a national movement.

2009 Update - No Progress

The Bryant Store is still in very bad repair.  A majority of the second floor walls have collapsed jeopardizing the structural integrity. Several attempts have been made to purchase the property; however, the current owners are not willing to sell the building at a reasonable price.

 


Flannegan-Lowry House

circa 1870

Jackson, Mississippi (Hinds County)

 

Click photo to enlarge

 

Built circa 1870, the Flannegan-Lowry House is an example of the “galleried planter’s cottage,” a regionally important house form of the antebellum period.  Examples were once widespread in the Jackson area, but very few now remain.

 

Robert Lowry, two-term governor of Mississippi from 1882-1890, purchased the home shortly after leaving that office and used it as his Jackson residence for about thirty years. Governor Lowry was a proponent of industrial development and strongly supported the expansion of Mississippi’s railroad system, which experienced spectacular growth during his years in office.  In 1914, the house was moved a short distance from Fortification Street to its present location on North Congress Street, making way for that street’s extension.

 

Governor Lowry was a proponent of industrial development and strongly supported the expansion of Mississippi’s railroad system, which experienced spectacular growth during his eight years in office. During the 1880’s, railroad mileage in Mississippi increased 110 percent, and in 1883 more tracks were laid in Mississippi than any other state in America.

 

The house is currently in the path of the expansion of the Baptist Hospital and once again has to be moved if it is to be saved as one of the few remaining antebellum structures in Jackson.

2009 Update - In Progress

Baptist Health Systems purchased the Lowry House in 2005 and donated it to MHT so that MHT could relocate it so it wouldn't have to be demolished.  In December of 2005, MHT was awarded a Community Heritage Grant from MDAH for the relocation of the Lowry House.  In the summer of 2007 the house was moved to a new lot on top of a newly constructed foundation. In 2008 the porches were restored with grant money from the 1772 Foundation. A Historic Structures Report was completed for the house in 2009 and architectural plans are underway. After that, a Capital Campaign will begin to raise the money necessary to restore the house for a Preservation Resource Center for Mississippi and the new home of MHT.

 


Jackson Municipal Library

1954

Jackson, Mississippi  (Hinds County)

 

Click photo to enlarge

 

A watershed event in the civil rights movement in Mississippi occurred at the old Jackson Public Library.  It was here that nine students from the historically black Tougaloo College made headlines when they quietly sat in at the library, located on State Street in the heart of Downtown Jackson.  The main branch served only white citizens, while blacks were sent to the substandard Carver Library.  This simple act of civil disobedience began the organized protests against the Jim Crow system in Jackson.

 

On the morning of March 27, 1961, the “Tougaloo Nine” stopped at the Carver Library to request books they knew would be unavailable there.  They then proceeded to the main branch on State Street, where the students looked through the card catalog, took books off the shelves and sat at tables and read.  When the police arrived they ordered the students to the “black library”.  When the students refused to leave, they were arrested and held for over thirty-two hours.  

 

In support of their jailed counterparts, the students at Jackson State University staged a protest and boycotted class.  Demonstrations of any kind were forbidden at the state-supported black school.  Some students tried to march downtown but were turned back by the police.  Supporters turned out for the “Tougaloo Nine” when they went to trial several days after their arrest.  As the students approached the courthouse the crowd cheered, which set-off the police.  They charged into the crowd and set the dogs loose.  Medgar Evers was one of those in the crowd that was beaten.  Myrlie Evers has said that “the change of tide in Mississippi” began with the “Tougaloo Nine” and the library sit-in.

 

The building, owned by the City of Jackson, has sat vacant for a number of years since the main library moved across the street into a larger building.  Although not vandalized, it suffers from lack of maintenance and general neglect.  The City has been trying to find a developer interested in reusing the building however their attempts have been unsuccessful.

 

2009 Update - In Progress

The Mississippi Baptist Convention, which has statewide offices nearby, has purchased the building.  Although they haven't announced plans for the building they have cleaned up the site and are maintaining the building.

 


Natchez College

1885

Natchez, Mississippi (Adams County)

 

Click photo to enlarge

The State Baptist Convention of Mississippi established Natchez College in 1885.  The college opened shortly after the American Baptist Home Missionary Society of New York relocated the Natchez Seminary for educating African-American ministers from Natchez to Jackson, where it eventually evolved into Jackson State University.   Natchez College was one of several private institutions of higher learning established by religious organizations in Mississippi during the post-Civil War period.   Integration and the proximity of Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University) were instrumental in the ultimate failure of the college, which contributed significantly for over a century to the education and cultural life of African Americans in Southwest Mississippi. 

 

The college occupied the antebellum estate known as Elmo with the mansion house initially serving as the main college building.  The mansion burned between 1901 and 1904 and was replaced by a new building.   Other new buildings were also constructed as part of the college complex.   For over a century, Natchez College played an important role in the education of African Americans in Mississippi.  For much of its life, it functioned primarily as a junior college and preparatory school.

 

Anne Moody, who wrote Coming of Age in Mississippi, was a student at Natchez College.  She wrote about the college, the Woodlawn neighborhood, and the town of Natchez in her landmark book, which has been on the required reading list of many American colleges and universities.   Within a short walking distance of Natchez College are the childhood home of author Richard Wright and the residence of noted jazz musician, Bud Scott.  

 

The college is currently sitting vacant and the owners of the site have tried to get approval to demolish all of the buildings but an outcry from the neighborhood helped the Preservation Commission turn down the demolition request.  The future of the site is uncertain.

2009 Update - No Progress

The property continues to deteriorate and remains in limbo.

 


Old Bridgeport Road

1822

Bolton, Mississippi (Hinds County)

  

Click photo to enlarge

 

 This narrow unpaved lane, nestled within deep embankments under a canopy of mature trees, is a remnant of one of the state’s earliest major roads, authorized by the Legislature in 1822 to connect the new capital of Jackson with the Mississippi River at Vicksburg.  The Bridgeport Road was a post road and a stagecoach route before the Civil War, and was used by troops of both the Confederate and Union armies during the Civil War.

 

The remaining original segment of Bridgeport Road, now extending only about three tenths of a mile, is a rare surviving early 19th century road that has never been subjected to paving, widening, or straightening.  This segment was designated as a Mississippi Landmark by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in 1989.

 

In order to facilitate vehicular access through the area, the County has proposed to widen the road, which would require cutting back the embankments and cutting much of the tree canopy.  Local property owners seeking to preserve the road have urged the County to construct a new road bypassing this short stretch of Old Bridgeport Road, allowing it to remain intact, but the County has resisted that proposal, and the historic character of this venerable road remains threatened.

2009 Update  - SAVED

Hinds County has built a new road to bypass Old Bridgeport Road, which has ended the plans to widen the road and pave over its historic character.   

 


(old) Pascagoula High School

1939

Pascagoula, Mississippi (Jackson County)

 

Click photo to enlarge

 

When it opened in January, 1939, Pascagoula High School was hailed as the “most modern and complete high school unit in the state.”  The school’s many new amenities included an auditorium with a seating capacity of 755, a well-equipped science laboratory, large library, music department, cafeteria, and business and homemaking classrooms.  Designed by the Gulfport architectural firm Smith & Olschner, the building’s massive foot-thick brick walls lend it an air of solidity and permanence, yet at the same time its angular Art Moderne style points toward a bright future of endless possibilities.  The school, with a final cost of $150,000, was constructed with funding from the Public Works Administration, a Depression-era federal program that was responsible for thousands of public buildings during the 1930s. 

 

After continuous use for almost 60 years, the old high school was closed in 1997, and its students moved to a new larger complex.   Since that time the main high school building has sat vacant.  The current owner of the school, the City of Pascagoula, has sought to demolish the building, but a local citizens group has fought tenaciously to preserve it and its legacy for future generations.

 

2009 Update - In Progress

In 2006, the school board sold the building to a developer who plans to turn the building into senior housing, with the auditorium to be used for community events. The developer received MAC and Hurricane Relief grants to help with the project.  All building permits and the approval of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has been obtained.  After the financial exchange program is be activated through the Mississippi Home Corporation constriction will begin.

 


Sun-n-Sand Motor Hotel

1960

Jackson, Mississippi (Hinds County)

  

Click photo to enlarge

 

Entrepreneur R.E. Dumas Milner launched the hotel in October 1960, naming it after a landmark Mississippi Gulf Coast hotel he owned as well. The hotel was important as a second home for state legislators, especially after the King Edward Hotel closed in 1965. It was moderately priced and within walking distance to the Capitol Building. The legislators could meet informally for meals, entertainment, and legislative negotiations. In 2001, House Ways and Means Chairman Billy McCoy said, “We have passed many important measures because of our conversations after hours in the Sun-n-Sand.” 

 

In addition, its free form, space-age sign recalls the mid-twentieth century Las Vegas style atmosphere and hints at its reputation as the place to party in Jackson. When the legislature legalized liquor in 1965, the Sun-n-Sand was one of the first bars to open in Jackson.   One legislative insider remembered that “a year before the state repealed its anti-liquor laws, the place was hopping.… I would go to the Legislature and see some of the lawmakers speaking against liquor … then I’d come back to the Sun-n-Sand and watch them take a drink.  They were voting dry and drinking wet.”

 

The hotel closed in October, 2001 and was boarded up shortly thereafter.  Currently there are no plans for the property and it continues to sit vacant and deteriorating.  The colorful history of this place will be lost if something is not done to save the building. 

 

2009 Update - No Progress

The buildings are continuing to deteriorate with no plans in sight for saving the hotel complex.

 


Tippah County Jail

1938

Ripley, Mississippi (Tippah County)

 

Click photo to enlarge

 

Built in 1938, the Tippah County Jail appears more massive than it really is, an illusion caused by its solid poured-concrete construction.  The two-story structure exhibits the Art Moderne style, which makes it unique in Ripley, and rare in the state.  The most striking details are on the façade where the words “County Jail” are spelled out vertically, and geometric banding adorns the area between the upper and lower windows.  The interior, although spare, is almost completely intact, still retaining its jail cells and doors.

 

The building was in use as the county jail until about 2000, when it was vacated for a new jail across the street.  Since then, the building has only been used for storage, and water damage from the leaking roof is already evident in some rooms.  The Tippah County Historical Society and the county and city would like to renovate the building for use as an archives for local records, but funding has so far been unavailable.

 

2009 Update - SAVED

In 2005, a $115,000 Community Heritage Preservation Grant was awarded for the rehabilitation of the building for use as a local records archives. Work was completed in 2008, and Tippah County has made plans to begin moving its historical archives into the facility during the fourth quarter of 2009. Tippah County is working with the Church of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, to send people and equipment to Tippah County to archive all of the material into electronic documents for the county’s use.

 


Wilkes Home

Circa 1820, 1842

Wilkesburg, Mississippi (Jefferson Davis County)

  

Click photo to enlarge

The Wilkes House is an architectural treasure, as it is a remarkably intact, rare surviving example of a vernacular house dating from the earliest decades of the 1800s.  Located approximately five miles south of Bassfield, the house was constructed in two distinct phases and probably achieved its present form about 1842.  The original portion is a one-and-one-half story, hall-and-parlor plan, log house, with the upper half-story accessed from a stair opening onto the rear gallery.  A very early 19th century construction date is indicated by the 12-inch wide, beaded, hand-planed boards that finish the walls and ceiling, the exposed beaded ceiling joists, batten shutters, and six-panel doors. 

 

Stephen H. Wilkes is believed to have enlarged the house into its present form around 1842, when he purchased the property and established a cotton plantation, mill, and mercantile store, which became the center of a rapidly growing community named Wilkesburg.  The house is distinguished by its outstanding degree of architectural integrity, and having almost no changes since it was enlarged in 1842, apparently even retaining some of its original paint.  Since 1842 the house has remained in the Wilkes family and in 1960 the descendants moved into a new house built next to the original Wilkes House which was then relegated to storage and has received little care since. 

 

Recently the Wilkes Home was purchased by the city of Bassfield from the Wilkes family.  Plans are to move the house to Bassfield and restore it for use as a visitor center as part of the Longleaf Trace.  However, the City does not have the money to move and restore the house so it will sit in its current location continuing to deteriorate at its present rate if the money can not be found to save this important and very intact early Mississippi house. 

2009 Update - In Progress

The Wilkes Home, which was designated a Mississippi Landmark in 2006. City officials wish to move the house from its isolated rural location to Bassfield for use as a visitor center on the Longleaf Trace. The city has done an engineering study, is investigating grants, and fund raising is the next step.

 


(Old) Woodmen of the World Building - (Harrison-Whitfield Building)

1857 – 1859

Columbus, Mississippi (Lowndes County)

 

Click photo to enlarge

 

Directly across the street from the Lowndes County Courthouse stands a structure that is one of only two three-story antebellum commercial buildings still remaining in Mississippi.  Erected between October 1857 and February 1859, as a real estate venture of Columbus businessmen Isham Harrison, Jr., and Henry B. Whitfield, the building originally housed a large Masonic hall on its top floor and condominium-style offices in the two floors below.  The offices were actually sold off by the room, with the first sale going to Thomas and Jacob Sharp, who acquired two choice rooms on the first story for $1,700.  Two rooms on the second story could be bought for a mere $1,000.  Eventually the Harrison-Whitfield Building became the Columbus headquarters of the Woodmen of America.

 

The building is constructed of brick and in a greatly simplified version of the Greek Revival Style.  Reflecting the severe symmetry of Greek Revival, each floor level of the façade is pierced by seven openings— large windows on the two upper floors and alternating windows and doors on the first.  Each opening is capped by a stone lintel, while a molded brick cornice crowns the roof-line.  Massive stepped parapets disguise the gabled ends of the building’s roof.

 

Vacant for many years, the building suffers structural deterioration, particularly on its rear facade.  The Old Harrison-Whitfield Building is a rare surviving historic resource from the state’s antebellum period and its loss would pose a severe blow to preservation efforts in downtown Columbus.   

 

2009 Update - In Progress

The owner has developed plans to move his law practice to the first floor, and to create three second-story apartments upstairs.

 


 

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  1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009

 

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