(Old) Woodmen of the World Building – (Harrison-Whitfield Building)
Circa 1857 – 1859
Columbus, Mississippi (Lowndes County)
Directly across the street from the Lowndes County Courthouse stands a structure that is one of only two three-story antebellum commercial buildings still remaining in Mississippi. Erected between October 1857 and February 1859 as a real estate venture of Columbus businessmen Isham Harrison, Jr., and Henry B. Whitfield, the building originally housed a large Masonic hall on its top floor and condominium-style offices in the two floors below. The offices were actually sold off by the room, with the first sale going to Thomas and Jacob Sharp, who acquired two choice rooms on the first story for $1,700. Two rooms on the second story could be bought for a mere $1,000. Eventually the Harrison-Whitfield Building became the Columbus headquarters of the Woodmen of America.
The building is constructed of brick and in a greatly simplified version of the Greek Revival Style. Reflecting the severe symmetry of Greek Revival, each floor level of the façade is pierced by seven openings— large windows on the two upper floors and alternating windows and doors on the first. Each opening is capped by a stone lintel, while a molded brick cornice crowns the roof-line. Massive stepped parapets disguise the gabled ends of the building’s roof.
Vacant for many years, the building suffers structural deterioration, particularly on its rear facade. The Old Harrison-Whitfield Building is a rare surviving historic resource from the state’s antebellum period and its loss would pose a severe blow to preservation efforts in downtown Columbus.
2017 Update – Saved
The space is currently being used for offices among the many other buildings along Lawyer’s Row.