Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reforming Tort Reform

HBO fires off what may prove to be a new battle for your hearts and minds over the issue of tort reform, with the film Hot Coffee.

Besides your basic legal and human rights, there are a few issues to consider whenever discussing the issue of Torts and the fight over them.

First: there are vast amounts of money involved in both sides. When I say "vast", I mean billions. Richard Scruggs became one of the world's wealthiest people by litigating torts. The insurance companies and other firms pushing for tort reform are also some of the largest corporations in the world. In this environment, it's nearly impossible to keep the actual rights of citizens at the forefront.

Secondly: There are massive political implications and involvements on both sides of this issue. For the last thirty years, races from local judges to governors to congress all the way to the president of the united states, all are heavily influenced by the issue of tort reform.

Thirdly: The right initially fought this issue by using anecdotes like the McDonald's Coffee suit, which the film explodes, but proceeds to argue the case for the left using new anecdotes of their own. Just like the Right uses talk radio to propagandize you, the Left now uses documentary films. Neither does a very good job of helping regular people make clear and rational decisions on these issues.

Fourthly: The marketing of this film has nothing to do with the film itself, and there has been a huge, huge push for the marketing of this film, nine or ten times the amount of money normally spent on a documentary film; and it comes not from the people wishing to profit from the film, but from the people wishing to score some sort of support for political reform from it.

Fifthly: The trailer for this film is incredibly misleading, jumping from case to case giving the clear impression that they are all one issue. The most egregious example being the jump cut from footage of the hot coffee case to a clip of Al Franken saying "She was Drugged! She was raped!", from a completely unrelated case.

Sixthly: If you think the guys on the left of this issue are unreasonable and dishonest, the guys on the right are worse!

It's important that you're able to make up your own mind on this issue without the Trial Lawyers or the Chamber of Commerce or any of the other involved entities making it up for you.  Watch the film but keep in mind that it aint the whole story either, and be watching for a return volley from the right to come soon after.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

West Capitol Historic District

Application for Inclusion in the
National Register of Historic Places

Oct. 30, 1979
West Capitol Historic District
Jackson MS
Original can be seen here http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/80002248.pdf

The West Capitol Street Historic District is primarily commercial in character, but includes as well a railroad depot, parking garage, and two office buildings. Almost all buildings are brick. Architectural styles include Queen Anne, Sullivanesque, Colonial Revival, Art Deco, and Spanish Colonial Revival. Party-wall commercial structures line the north side of West Capitol Street for one block and the south side for one-and-one-half blocks. The majority of buildings on the north side of Capitol Street which is the main, east-west thoroughfare in Jackson, were constructed by 1900 and form a unified row of low-scale structures in sharp contrast to the adjacent new Federal Building. Unique architectural features of these low-scale buildings include the Palladian facade treatment as well as the original storefront and interior of Bourgeois Jewelry Store at 220 W. Capitol St., the Queen Anne-style facade and original cast-iron columns of 218 W. Capitol St., the intact Colonial Revival facade with multipaned transom incorporating the Cohen Brothers store name at 224 W. Capitol St., and the pilastered facade treatment of three other "buildings In'the row. Buildings on the south side of Capitol Street were constructed later, the earliest ca. 1895 with the majority between 1904 and 1923. These structures retain a higher scale, ranging from three to twelve stories. Architecturally outstanding structures on this side of Capitol Street include the Dennery Building, with corbeled drip molds and Queen Annestyle cornice, the Sullivanesque McCleland Hardware Building, and the Colonial Revival King Edward Hotel (entered on the National Register in 1976). Completing a square block on the south side of Capitol Street is the Standard Life Tower, a sixteen-story Art Deco skyscraper constructed in 1929, together with a one-story Art Deco commercial row and a two-story parking garage constructed in 1926. Extending north to Mill Street, the district includes several significant Colonial Revival-style buildings: the two-story train depot constructed in 1925, when the elevated railroad tracks which form the western boundary of the district were built, the Noble Hotel, ca. 1908, a three-story building located on Mill Street across from the depot, and a one-story commercial building, ca. 1915, originally constructed as a car showroom. Interesting street features of the district include three sidewalk decorations, a mosaic walkway with "Bon-Ton" spelled in tiles at 209-211 W. Capitol Strand two Art Deco sidewalk motifs in front of the two entrances to the Standard Life Tower, which match decorative panels of the building's exterior.

The most obvious architectural changes to the district include the loss of decorative parapets at 226-230 W. Capitol St. and the Bon-Ton Building, 209-211 W. Capitol St., and the loss of architectural features on other buildings in the district from cladding or infilling of facades. Original wooden canopies have been removed or replaced with aluminum. The Millsaps building, constructed in 1913, was originally six stories high but was raised to nine stories in 1945. Despite these changes the district retains much of its former character, especially when contrasted with the surrounding area, which is currently undergoing demolition and new construction.

The West Capitol Street Historic District contains the earliest intact commercial facades in Jackson and some of the finest Art Deco architecture in the state of Mississippi. Reflecting the earlier importance of West Capitol Street as a turn-of-the-century commercial center and the subsequent growth and development of the capital city in the 1920s, the district is vitally important as a visual record of the commercial history of Jackson.

Prior to 1885 there was little commercial activity on West Capitol Street, the main business center being located near the Old Capitol on State Street and extending down East Capitol Street only as far as President Street. Only a few commercial establishments served the old railroad depot located where the present one stands, two hotels, a drug store, and a dry-goods store. Of these early commercial structures only the dry-goods store, at 232 W. Capitol St., retains a resemblance to its original appearance. By 1890 Jackson seemed to have recovered from the Reconstruction period. The population had increased and new houses were being built northwest and south of the old section of town. A newly established board of trade had begun to attract new industry to the city. In 1899 Jackson got its first electric street car. Thus new markets and improved transportation contributed to the new business activity on West Capitol Street so that by 1900 brick commercial blocks ha.d been constructed on the north side of the street as far east as 214, and the 200 block entirely completed by 1925.

Alfred Bourgeois first located his jewelry store in 1886 on South State Street. Several years later he moved his business to West Capitol Street and by 1900 had built the brick building at 220, just west of his shop's relocation. This store has remained in the Bourgeois family for almost eighty years and according to the owners is the oldest continuously owned family business in the state. Containing its original cherry display cases and ceiling of German steel pressed in a floral pattern, it was the first completely fireproof building to be constructed in the area and the floor is said to be the first tile floor in the state (Jackson: Bourgeois Building, Hinds County, Statewide Survey of Historic Sites, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson). S. P. McRae located his first store at 216 W. Capitol St. in 1902. McRae's is now the largest locally owned department-store chain in Mississippi. By the 1920s he had moved east on the same block to 200-202, where the store remained for more than thirty years. Also located on this block, at 232, were the law offices of prominent black attorneys Beadle and Howard. Perry Howard later moved to WasM'ngEon and became leader of Mississippi 1 s "Black and Tan" Republicans (Carroll Brinson, Jackson/A Special Kind of Place [Jackson, Miss.: City of Jackson, 1977], p. 211).

Development of the south side of West Capitol Street was slower, with construction not being completed until 1929. The commercial block which now incorporates 209-215 W. Capitol St. was one of the first commercial blocks on the south side of the street and housed a bank, dry-goods store, and grocery. Part of the building later became the Bon-Ton Cafe, one of Jackson's fanciest restaurants. The Dennery Building, constructed by 1900, is outstanding for its upper floors, articulated in the Queen Anne commercial style, and its first floor, which has been compatibly modernized. The four-story McCleland Hardware Building at 217 W. Capitol St., one of the few Sullivanesque structures remaining in Jackson, was built in 1904. It remained the home of the McCleland Hardware Company until 1926, when the building became the Montgomery Ward Department Store. Constructed in 1913, the Millsaps Building, at 200-205 W. Capitol St., was the first home of the Jackson State National Bank. Rapid development of the remainder of the block began in 1923 with the completion of the King Edward Hotel, considered at the time to be the "most modern in the country" ("The New Edwards Hotel to be Opened Saturday; Most Modern in Country," Clarion-Ledger, [Jackson, Miss.], Dec. 28, 1923).

In 1925 the present depot was constructed and the hazardous tracks which crossed Capitol Street at ground level were elevated. In 1926 the classically detailed garage on the corner of South Mill and Roach streets was built for the R. E. Hines Motor Company as a Chrysler dealer showroom, and in 1929 the Art Deco Tower Building was constructed by the Enochs, who owned the King Edward Hotel. Constructed as a monument to the family who had acquired wealth in the lumber industry, the Tower was built in five and one half months, with twenty-four hour shifts stopping only on Sundays (Stephen Rassenfoss, "Construction Raises Capitol (Property Values," Clarion-Ledger [Jackson, Miss.], real estate section, July 29, 1979, p. 1).

Designed by Jackson architect, Claude Lindsley, the Tower Building is one of only three Art Deco skyscrapers in the state and is outstanding for both its interior and exterior detailing. Utilizing the typical set-back design the building also displays decorative panels with geometric motifs which are highlighted with 14K gold leaf. This motif is replicated (minus gold leaf) in the sidewalks in front of both entrances. The interior hallway is particularly lavish utilizing a variety of materials and geometric forms. Linking the skyscraper with some of the lower scale buildings in the district is the 1-story building just north of the Tower which employs a different Art-Deco motif in each bay. Visually, the transition from low-scale to high-rise is not abrupt. Buildings on the south side of West Capital Street which vary from two to nine stories make the transition between the 2-story buildings on the north side of West Capitol and the Standard Life Tower on Pearl Street.

Structures Within the District
Abbreviations at the end of each entry are "P. S." for Primary Significance, "C. S." for Contributing Significance, "M" for Marginal Signifiance, and "I" for Intrusion.

1: Smith-Pate Auto Company Building
(126 N. Mill St.)
Ca. 1915
Colonial Revival style. One-story three-bay brick commercial building. Modillioned cornice of concrete. Concrete diamond-shaped frieze ornamentation. (P. S.)

2: Commercial Building
(118 N. Mill St.)
Ca. 1930
One-story 2xl-bay brick commercial building with hinged brick corners and original corrugated metal canopy. (C. S.)

3. Noble Hotel
(108-114 N. Mill St.)
Ca. 1908
Colonial Revival. Three-story 4x2-bay brick building with metal block cornice. Concrete cornice at first-floor level. (P. S.)

4. Union Depot
(W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1925
Colonial Revival. Two-story 5x6-bay brick building with classical ornamentation in concrete. Round-arched windows with radiating muntins. One-story addition on west side above which is constructed elevated railroad tracks. One-story gable-roofed building attached at rear. (P. S.)

5. Gulf Finance
(236 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1940
Two-story 2x10-bay commercial building clad with concrete. Enamels-paneled first floor. Casement windows. (M.)

6. Capitol News
(232-234 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1928
Spanish Colonial Revival. Two story four-bay commercial building of concrete block. Tile roof. Round-arched windows. Urns and corbel table detail. Storefronts altered but one rope-turned column still visible. (C. S.)

7. Commercial Block
(226-230 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1885, altered ca. 1910 and 1945
Two story ten-bay commercial building with concrete-clad pilastered second floor and horizontal band of marbelized glass between floors. (C. S.)

8. Cohen Brothers
(224 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1895, altered ca. 1918
Colonial Revival. Two-story two-bay brick commercial block. Modillioned cornice on first and second floors. Raised brick rectangular enrichment with concrete corner blocks. Multipaned transom with "Cohen Brothers" in center. (P. S.)

9. Commercial Block
(222 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1895 with later alterations
Two-story two-bay brick commercial building with patterned brick frieze to match 220 W. Capitol St. Recessed rectangular panels above windows. Rosette tie-rod caps. Aluminum panel covers transom area. (C. S.)

10. Bourgeois Jewelers
(220 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1900
Colonial Revival. Two-story three-bay brick commercial block with Palladian facade treatment and patterned brick facade decoration. Leaded glass transoms. Original interior. (P. S.)

11. Commercial Block
(218 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1897
Queen Anne. Two-story four-bay brick building with bracketed iron frieze and bracketed window lintels. Rectangular ventilator panels with metal grates. Original cast-iron columns. Date 1897 in frieze. (P. S.)

12. Lott Furniture Co.
(216 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1895, altered 1951
Two-story six bay brick commercial building with glass block windows. Original openings altered. Original decorative grates remain. (C. S.)

13. Commercial Block
(210-212 W. Capitol St.)
Before 1885, storefront ca. 1945
Two story four-bay commercial building. Concrete infilled facade, but shape of original cornice still apparent. Ornate cast-iron lintels visible. Original rosette tie-rod caps. (P. S.)

14. Commercial Block
(206-208 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1910
Classical Revival. Two story six-bay brick building with pilastered upper story. Metal modillioned and denticulated cornice. Corbeled brick above pilasters. (P. S.)

15. Commercial Block
(200-204 W. Capitol St.)
Constructed as two buildings: 202-204 (western section), four bays constructed ca. 1910; 200 (eastern section), two bays constructed ca. 1915. This building,now clad with concrete, once matched 206-208 W. Capitol St. Pilasters remain but cornice has been removed. (C. S.)

16. Dennery Building
(113-117 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1898
Queen Anne. Two-story 5x5- bay brick commercial block. Bracketed cornice. Windows set in recessed bays. Raised brick drip molds with corbeled ends. (P. S.)

17. Commercial Block
(119 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1925
One-story former Spanish Colonial style recently remodeled to "Old Town" appearance with brick veneer facade, round arched windows, and metal grill work. (I.)

18. Mayflower Cafe and Thomas 1 Great M. Store
(121 W. Capitol St.)
East section of building ca. 1898, west section ca. 1901. Two-story 4xll-bay brick building with stucco front ca. 1945. Original windows with segmental-arched heads and raised brick drip molds as well as corbeled cornice remain on west elevation. Art Moderne canopy with neon enrichment. Art Deco neon sign. (C. S.)

19. Millsaps Building
(203 W. Capitol St.)
First through six floors constructed 1913. Seventh through ninth floor added 1945. Nine-story 3x7-bay brick commercial building with paired windows recessed between pilasters. Corbeled cornice. Original classical feeling of building altered more toward Art Deco when building raised. Original rusticated concrete and console keystone remain visible on one section of the first floor. (C. S.)

20. Boston Investment Co.
(207 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1913.
One-story two-bay commercial building with stepped parapet roofline clad with marble panels. Original facade treatment was probably same as first floor of the Millsaps Building. (M.)

21. Bon-Ton Cafe
(209-211 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1890, later alterations
Two-story brick commercial building. Upper stories covered with enamel panel. Tile sidewalk reads "Bon-Ton Cafe" (I.)

22. Liberty Loans
(215 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1890, later alterations
Two-story commercial building with concrete-clad upper story, enamel paneled first floor. (I.) 23. McCleland Hardware Building (217 W. Capitol St.): Ca. 1904. Sullivanesque four story eight-bay brick commercial building with corbeled cornice and curved, stepped parapet. Windows recessed in four-story arcaded bays. (P. S.)

24. King Edward Hall
(221 W. Capitol St.)
Ca. 1960
One-story three-bay building with recessed entrances at end bays. Mosaic tile on first floor. Concrete solar screen on second floor. (I.)

25. King Edward Hotel
(Capitol at Mill Sts.)
Ca. 1923
Colonial Revival. Entered on the National Register in 1976. (P.S.)

26. Garage
corner of Mill and Roach Sts.: 1526
Classical detailing. Three story brick and concrete garage with large rear addition. Central bay decorated with pilasters, topped with curved parapet. Scrolled ornament adorns doorway. Corner pilasters with geometric designed. Horizontal bands of concrete divide the floors. (P. S.)

27. Standard Life Tower
(127 S. Roach St.)
Ca. 1929
Art Deco sixteen-story 5x8-bay skyscraper of concrete and brick. First two floors are designed in low scale with setback battlements and stepped window openings. The main block of the building rises from center of the two-story section. Setback design. Enamel spandrel panels on twelveth and thirteenth floors, which utilize Art Deco motif and match sidewalk pattern at entrances. Art Deco lobby intact. (P. S.)

28. Commercial Block
(111-121 S. Roach St.)
Ca. 1929
Art Deco one-story six-bay commercial block. Each bay recessed between pilasters and decorated in a different Art Deco motif. Parapeted roofline of each bay also articulated in an individual Art Deco design. (P. S.)


Jackson City Directory. Jackson, Miss.: Tucker Printing Co., 1922, 1925.

McCain, William D. The Story of Jackson. Jackson, Miss.: J. F. Hyer Publishing Co., 1953.

Maloney, T. J. Maloney's Jackson, Mississippi, City Directory. Memphis: Interstate Publishing Co., 1904, 1907.

Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Jackson. Statewide Survey of Historic Sites. Hinds County. Jackson: Bourgeois Building, Street scenes.

Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Jackson. Subject File. Jackson: Capitol St.
Rassenfoss, Stephen. "Construction Raises Capitol Property Values," Clarion Ledger [Jackson, Miss. ], real estate section, July 29, 1979.

Sanborn Insurance Maps of Jackson, Miss., for the years 1895, 1900, 1904, 1909, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1948. New York: Sanborn Map Co. Originals located at Mississippi State University Library, Special Collections, Starkville, Miss.