Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

B.S. Ricks Memorial Library - Yazoo City, Mississippi

Last month, I spent some time in my home state of Mississippi during the initial tour of my book, The Juke Joint King of the Mississippi Hills: The Raucous Reign of Tillman Branch. During National Library Week, I signed books at several libraries in or near Holmes County, Mississippi, where Tillman Branch's club were located. One of the libraries hosting a book signing that week was B. S. Ricks Memorial Library in Yazoo City, Mississippi. John Ellzey and the library's friendly and helpful staff welcomed me, and the book signing went well. Although I grew up in Mississippi and was educated there, and had been to Yazoo City, I had never before seen the beautiful historic building that houses the library's wonderful collection of books. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to sign my book within the walls of this library.

B.S. Ricks Memorial Library
Front Entrance Off Main Street
Yazoo City, Mississippi

Side View of Ricks Library
Corner Window
Looks out from Mississippi and Yazoo Collection Room

The Yazoo City library's history is a long and interesting one, beginning in 1838, according to its website, when it "was chartered by the Mississippi Legislature to provide public library service to Yazoo County." The current building, opened in 1901, was funded by Mrs. Fannie Ricks, a local philanthropist, who named the library in honor of her late husband, General B.S. Ricks. Located on North Main Street in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the home of country humorist, Jerry Clower, the fascinating and beautiful building was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1975.

According to the s nomination form, "the Ricks Memorial Library is a noteworthy example of the Beaux Arts Classicism fashionable at the beginning of the twentieth century. While the building is not large, the use of Edwardian proportion and classical ornament combine to give it a pronounced monumentality. Standing on a concrete foundation, the library is constructed of hydraulic pressed brick with terra-cotta trim and is covered by a tin roof. Its composition is dominated by a central, two-story pavilion.... Sheltering the entrance is a single-story, semi-circular portico of paired Tuscan columns of Indiana stone....Use of the semicircle, of which the portico is the most conspicuous example, also appears in the skillfully detailed arches above the windows and the door opening....Other details include panels placed in the.....areas beneath the windows, which are double hung with one-over-one glazing."

Exterior View of Curved Wall of Main Library

The building's exterior is beautiful and architecturally exceptional in design, and its portico and arched windows remind me of the long ago design of Moorish palaces. In addition to the library's rounded walls of numerous arched windows that allow natural light inside the library's main reading area, the unique building boasts a number of other outstanding features. One of these features is the elegant and gilded barrel-shaped ceiling inside the entranceway.

Inside Front Entrance to Ricks Memorial Library
Yazoo City, Mississippi
A closer look at the gilded ceiling of the library's grand entranceway. Each picture frame type square includes a blue and white cloud scene that gives the illusion of sky overhead.

My book signing inside this grand old building went very well. Several people who attended shared stories about growing up in Mississippi during the time of Tillman Branch's clubs in Holmes County nearby. And I left Yazoo City with some fond memories of my own -- of time spent with new readers of my book in this exquisite old building.

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