South Central Aberdeen Historic District
The South Central Aberdeen Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2016, The Gombach Group.
The South Central Aberdeen Historic District is overwhelmingly residential in character and is comprised of significant buildings dating from 1848 to 1937. Utilitarian outbuildings, such as garages and storage sheds, which do not make a distinct contribution to the sense of time and place within the district are not included in the inventory of buildings even if their construction dates from the period of significance. On the other hand, if these types of structures possess architectural and/or historical significance they are included in the inventory. The present-day town of Aberdeen is comprised of two original towns each platted individually Old Aberdeen to the east of Meridian Street and New Aberdeen to the west. The man made topography created by these two plats is clearly delineated within the South Central Aberdeen Historic District.
The district is roughly L-shaped and includes most of the residential area between Commerce Street and Highway 25. Several historically distinct neighborhoods are located within the boundaries of this district. The late nineteenth century, upper middle class neighborhood known as Silk Stocking Row comprised most of S. Franklin Street. At approximately the same time and two blocks to the east on S. Columbus Street were the comfortable residences of Aberdeen's thriving black middle class. Maple Street, at the eastern edge of the district, retains its appearance as a turn-of-the-century middle-class neighborhood. All of the properties are well-maintained and most are informally landscaped with trees, crepe myrtles and other shrubbery. Even the vacant lots are well cared for. The houses on the west side of S. Franklin Street are situated on some of the largest lots in the district; three are each over one acre in size. The city ditch enters at the northwest corner of the district, meanders southeasterly and exits the district below Monroe Street east of Hickory Street. It is relatively unobtrusive and, therefore, not an eyesore.
The popular styles of the nineteenth century such as Greek Revival, Second Empire, and Queen Anne are usually articulated in the houses lining the north-south streets, although interspersed among them are bungalows and expressions of the various early twentieth century revival styles. The east-west routes are dominated by bungalows and other styles that were popular in the early twentieth century. Most of the nineteenth century houses on these latter streets are located on the corner lots. This development pattern illustrates how the large lots of nineteenth century residences were subdivided after the turn of the century to accommodate the increased demand for housing.
Clearly delineated within the district's borders is the boundary (Meridian Street) between the plat of Old Aberdeen laid out by Robert Gordon and that of New Aberdeen developed by the Hamilton Syndicate. That boundary was dissolved when the two Aberdeens were incorporated into a single town on May 12, 1887. Nevertheless, the topography of the eastern portion of this district still reveals the initial development patterns of the two distinct communities.
The construction dates of the significant elements within this District extend from 1848 to c. 1930. These houses illustrate the architectural styles that were popular during Aberdeen's two greatest periods of prosperity the late 1840's to 1850's and ca. 1880 to ca. 1930.
Several architecturally significant houses from Aberdeen's antebellum "flush times" still remain. The Parson Gunn House (519 W. Monroe) and the Felix G. Henley House (501 S. Meridian) are typical of the central hall plan Greek Revival cottages with porticoes being constructed in Aberdeen during this period. The Gregg-Hamilton House (410 S. Meridian) is an unusual example of mid-nineteenth century eclecticism expressed in the planter's cottage house form. The Griffin House (107 E. Jefferson) is Aberdeen's only extant example of an I-house known to date.
Along S. Franklin Street is the town's finest collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century houses in terms of integrity, quality of design and variety of architectural styles. Local tradition holds that this street became known as Silk Stocking Row in the late nineteenth century, because of the upper middle class residential development occurring here at that time. Other architecturally significant houses from this time period are scattered throughout the district.
In the early twentieth century, the bungalow was a popular house type in Aberdeen and many examples are still extant in the South Central Aberdeen Historic District. Early twentieth century revival styles Dutch Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival and Swiss Chateau are also represented in the district.
Another significant development that occurred in this historic district was the growth of a black middle-class neighborhood centered around the intersection of W. Jefferson and S. Columbus Streets. After the Civil War, the former slave Windsor Reynolds acquired the city block bounded by Jefferson, Long, Washington and Columbus Streets. He and his wife, Ann, subdivided the land into lots and sold them to black people. Other blacks built homes on Columbus between Jefferson and Madison Streets. Generally, these blacks were successful businessmen who provided necessary goods and services to their people. The buildings which housed their shops and businesses, as far as can be determined at this time, are either non-extant or have not retained their architectural integrity.
Little is known about Aberdeen's black neighborhoods at the turn of the century. Besides the one included in this district, others were located to the north around Vine Street, to the south around Chaffie, Burnett and Forrest Streets and also where Jackson Street intersects Chestnut and Locust Streets. More distinct boundaries cannot be determined at this time. These areas were surveyed, but no architecturally significant structures remain. Although the neighborhood centered around Jefferson and Columbus Streets is now predominantly white, it retains the most intact cluster of turn-of-the-century residences for middle-class blacks to be found anywhere in the town.
† Susan M. Enzweiler, Architectural Historian, South Central Aberdeen Historic District, Monroe County, Mississippi, nomination document, 1987, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.