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The 112,000 square-foot James O. Eastland Federal Courthouse in the Smith Park Architectural District of Jackson, Mississippi has been adapted into the Courthouse Lofts at The Walthall. The rehabilitated, historic building now contains 101 studio and one-bedroom units, a food hall open to the public with four, casual-dining vendors, and a connecting skybridge to the historic Edison Walthall Hotel, also recently converted into modern apartments. MHA Charleston consulted on federal and state historic tax credits for the project’s $10 million in qualified rehabilitation expenditures.
Built in 1933, the Old Post Office and Federal Building is a five‐story, thirteen bay structure designed in the Art Deco style. The concrete with sandstone veneer building was designed by Jackson architecture firm of Hull and Malvaney. Described in its National Register nomination as “Spartan,” the Old Post Office and Federal Building’s exterior contains some ornamental relief in the form of sculpture and the many carved decorative spandrels panels.
The building served as a post office until 1984, and a federal building until 2011. Although vacant for some years, the historic building retained a wealth of original details, making the structure an excellent candidate for historic tax credits and adaptive reuse.
The Courthouse Lofts offer housing in the center of Jackson’s business, banking, and government district. The units come with modern amenities, including a community pool, business center, and billiards room, in addition to original courthouse and post office elements, sensitively incorporated into the adapted apartments.
Rehabilitation work included masonry cleaning, repair, and restoration; a new skybridge constructed to adjoin the two historic buildings; new interior partitions for apartments; retention of historic windows, corridors, finishes, and entryways; and the installation of new mechanical systems. Original finishes preserved included terrazzo floors, marble wainscoting, cast iron railings, marble stair treads, and aluminum cornices, friezes, and architraves.
The original post office lobby includes restored post office boxes, marble topped tables, directory boards, and wall clocks. The historic courtroom, judge’s chambers, and law library include original wooden paneling and window framing. The former law library, now an apartment, features original, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and the U.S. Marshal’s Suite, also an apartment, features original vaults and safes along with their accompanying steel doors. Finally, the federal courtroom was adapted into the fitness room with its original judge’s dais and New-Deal-era painted mural by Russian artist, Simka Simkhovitch.
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