Endangered ThreefootWednesday, May 19, 2010
Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released its list of the "11 Most Endangered Historic Places" and the Treefoot Building in Meridian is on it, due to threat of demolition.
In 1930, the citizens of Meridian, Mississippi, had never seen anything like the newly dedicated Threefoot Building, a shiny, 16-story Art Deco skyscraper that was the tallest building in the state.
Named for its owners, a successful German-American family in Meridian, the building was admired for its decorative polychrome terra cotta and granite exterior and lavish interior details, including marble flooring and wainscoting, cast-plaster walls and ceilings, and etched bronze elevator doors. Although the Threefoot family lost their prized property in the Depression, the building was a mainstay of downtown Meridian for decades until it closed in 2000 because of deterioration and extensive upper-floor vacancies. Hopes were buoyed when the building's owner, the City of Meridian, began negotiations with a developer who planned to renovate the building and turn it into a hotel, but the City later abandoned that plan.---The Art Deco Queen of Meridian continues to deteriorate, and locals fear that her next date may be with the wrecking ball.
In the last several years, the building has experienced significant deterioration. Terra-cotta tiles are falling off the facade, water is infiltrating in several locations and windows are in poor shape. Without immediate action, portions of the masonry are at risk of falling into pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Even though a developer expressed interest in the building, the City of Meridian was unable to provide funds for gap financing or other incentives – and now locals fear that the City Council will attempt to remove the building from the Mississippi Landmark List in order to pave the way for its demolition.
Threefoot is the English variation on their family name, which before they came to the US was Dreyfus. To English (from German), Dreyfus translates like this: Drey (3) fus (foot).