Chloe Edwards, of the Government Records Section, brings us this post in an ongoing series chronicling the construction of the Charlotte Capers Archives and History Building. Many thanks to Ms. Edwards for her research.
After securing a resolution from the department’s Board of Trustees urging a $1.5 million appropriation (approximately $11 million today) for a new building, Capers worked with architect William D. Morrison, Jr. to draw up a preliminary building plan and cost estimate to present to the legislature. Morrison envisioned a five story building on the corner of North and Amite Streets with a central stack space flanked by public areas, administrative offices, and processing space. The plan also called for a foundation strong enough to add two floors if needed. The building contained forty thousand square feet of floor space and would cost approximately $1.1 million. Capers requested $1.2 million, but the appropriation bill languished through several legislative sessions before Governor Paul B. Johnson offered his support. Consequently, House Bill 7 earmarked $1.12 million for the construction of a new home for MDAH in 1967, Mississippi’s sesquicentennial year.
After two years of planning with architectural firm Overstreet, Ware, Ware, and Lewis and consultation with other state archives, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 3, 1969. In attendance were former governors Paul B. Johnson, Ross Barnett, and J.P. Coleman, Lieutenant Governor Charles L. Sullivan, Secretary of State Heber Ladner, department trustee and future governor William F. Winter, Dr. R.A. McLemore (the new department director), and of course, Charlotte Capers.
Although the Board of Trustees preferred the site on the corner of North and Amite streets, where the Winter Building is now located, the Building Commission opted for the lot just south of the Old Capitol for the opportunity to create a historical complex on Capitol Green. The building would complement the War Memorial and Old Capitol Buildings without duplicating the former architecturally or overshadowing the latter. The 1891 Confederate Memorial would retain pride of place in front of the archives building.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History in-house workshop on giving building tours, June 10, 1971 audio transcript (http://www.mdah.ms.gov/arrec/digital_archives/vault/projects/OHtranscripts/AU710_104014.pdf)
Series 1258: Charlotte Capers Building Files, 1928-1992. Box 4899.
Subject file: Archives and History Building, 1966-1970
Subject file: Archives and History Building, 1971 (dedication year)
A Building Survey for a New Archives Building, for the Board of Trustees, Department of Archives and History, prepared by William D. Morrison, Jr., 1966
Tauches, Karen. “The Fate of History: The Old Archives Building is Under Review.” Burnaway, published July 22, 2011. Accessed April 3, 2014 at http://burnaway.org/the-fate-of-history-the-old-archives-building-is-under-review/
CR&HM. Accessed April 3, 2014 at http://www.dalepartners.com/civic-corporate/wfm-archives-and-history/
WFM Archives and History. Accessed April 3, 2014 at http://www.dalepartners.com/civic-corporate/crhm/
Money conversions performed at http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl