BEST OF THE SOUTH PRESERVING SOUTHERN ARCHITECTURE AWARD
All Award Winners
2015 BEST OF THE SOUTH PRESERVING SOUTHERN ARCHITECTURE AWARD
Established in 2006, SESAH’s annual Best of the South (BOTS): Preserving Southern Architecture Award honors a project that preserves or restores an historic building, or complex of buildings, in an outstanding manner and demonstrates excellence in research, technique, and documentation. This year, the committee received nine exemplary submissions from across the region.
The 2015 winner of the Best of the South Award is the Tallahatchie County Courthouse Restoration, submitted by Belinda Stewart Architects. All photographs courtesy of Langdon Clay.
More information about the Building:
Located in Sumner, Mississippi, the Tallahatchie County 2nd District Courthouse is the site of the 1955 Emmett Till murder trial. The restoration of the courthouse represents the best of preservation practices and sets a standard for the careful restoration and thoughtful interpretation of a nationally significant site.
The Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse, completed in 1910, tells the story of Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old African American teenager from Chicago, kidnapped and murdered while visiting family in Mississippi. The subsequent trial and acquittal of two white men responsible for the crime became a defining moment in the nascent movement for civil rights.
In 2006, the Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors established the Emmett Till Memorial Commission to guide the restoration of the courthouse, and for the next several years, Belinda Stewart Architects, along with a diverse and impressive team of experts, stabilized and restored the building to its appearance during the trial. With the difficult task of preserving a historic site that would operate as a functioning court facility and a living artifact, the project team employed significant planning and consensus building, working closely with the Till family and the local community.
Relying on historic photographs, original drawings, and news reel footage from the trial, the project team verified the building’s 1955 condition and led a meticulous restoration of the courthouse exterior and the courtroom spaces associated with the Till trial. The historic fabric of the building, including original courthouse windows found in a nearby shed, were carefully restored and in some cases, replicated based on surviving materials.
The acquisition and rehabilitation of the adjacent Wong Grocery building provided needed space for a new interpretative center that will house program space for tours, lectures, and extensive digital displays. This exhibit annex, along with the restored courthouse, will serve as the centerpiece of the Emmett Till Historic Trail, currently in development.
On behalf of SESAH, the awards committee is honored to recognize this collaborative restoration effort steeped in the spirit of reconciliation and dedicated to the honest investigation of our shared history.
2014 BEST OF THE SOUTH PRESERVING SOUTHERN ARCHITECTURE AWARD
The Best of the South: Preserving Southern Architecture Award was first presented in 2006 (read more…).
The 2014 Award goes to the Charnley-Norwood House, Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
The restoration of the historic Charnley-Norwood House in the wake of Hurricane Katrina represents the best of preservation practice and sets a standard for the careful recording of building material and form.
One of two vacation houses designed by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright in Ocean Springs, the Charnley-Norwood House survived the hurricane’s fury. Katrina was not the first disaster to strike the house. Originally built in 1890 for a Chicago-based lumber baron named James Charnley, the house burned and was rebuilt for another Chicagoan, Frederick Norwood, by 1900.
The vacation house is shaped by characteristics of modern designs for residential architecture, including the open floor plan that allowed interior spaces to flow into one another and the horizontal emphasis of the overall building form. Sullivan and Wright designed the house to “invite the outside to come indoors.”
The 2005 hurricane gave new meanings to this ethos, washing though the house and lifting it from its foundations. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH), together with the National Trust, the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy and other stakeholders, prevented demolition of the house. MDAH oversaw the emergency stabilization in 2009. Then began the two-year research and documentary effort. In 2011 the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources acquired the house and, with the MDAH, launched a restoration campaign that returned the Charnley-Norwood House to its circa 1900 appearance.
On behalf of SESAH, the awards committee is honored to recognize a collaborative effort in rescue, research, and restoration that is as commendable as the landmark’s design collaboration between Sullivan and Wright and one that is truly the Best of the South.
The 2013 award goes to Dan Beaman and Jerry English from Cummings and McCrady, Inc for their work on the restoration and conservation of Randolph Hall, Towell Library, Porter’s Lodge, and the Cistern on the campus of the College of Charleston.
Completed in 1740, La Concepcion has long been recognized as local landmark. As was the case with many Southwest missions, the church fell into disrepair during the early 19th Century. Despite extensive deterioration, La Concepcion is the only one of San Antonio’s missions to retain its original roof. Survival of the roof structured playhed a significant part in the preservation of the building’s 18th-Century frescos, portions of which were discovered during the recent restoration.
The methodology and the quality of the interventions (encompassing preservation and restoration techniques) serve not only to revitalize a historical landmark, but also to bolster awareness of traditional building trades. Of particular importance is the retention of treatments from different periods allows which allow users to see how the interior evolved over time. By enriching the experiences of worshippers, locals, and visitors to the mission; the restoration of La Concepcion’s interior extends beyond the realms of the preservation arts and academic inquiry, thereby enriching the whole community.
The 2011 winner is the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program of the Texas Historical Commission
Albert and Associates, Architects, for their restoration and adaptation of the E. 6th Street USO Club in Hattiesburg, Mississippi
The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the state of Mississippi for the restoration of Beauvoir, the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, in Biloxi, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The meticulous restoration effort was led by Albert & Associates Architects, of Hattiesburg, whose work at Beauvoir continues to receive accolades, including an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.
The Preservation Trust of Spartanburg, South Carolina, for its innovative street-wide approach to countering the problem of urban decline and abandonment in the historic Hampton Heights neighborhood, specifically along Carlisle Street.
McMillan Smith & Partners Architects, PLLC, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, for the restoration of Walker Hall at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. Founded in 1849, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind enriched the lives of generations of sensory disabled students. Architect Edward C. Jones designed Walker Hall as the centerpiece of the campus in 1859; the building was expanded by famed architects Samuel Sloan of Philadelphia (1884) and Edwards & Sayward of Atlanta (1921).
The Coastal Heritage Society of Savannah, Georgia, for their preservation, restoration and adaptive use of the mid nineteenth-century Roundhouse Railroad Museum Complex in Savannah.
The Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SESAH) is a regional chapter of the national Society of Architectural Historians and includes twelve states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
The nonprofit organization holds an annual meeting, publishes a quarterly newsletter and an annual journal, ARRIS, and presents annual awards, including the “Best of the South” preservation award.
SESAH was founded in 1982 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta to promote scholarship on architecture and related subjects and to serve as a forum for ideas among architectural historians, architects, preservationists, and others involved in professions related to the built environment. The annual meeting features scholarly paper sessions, business meeting, study tours, and a keynote lecture by a national leader in the field. SESAH members come from across the U.S.