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Laura Ewen Blokker secures national recognition for medical office

December 13, 2017

The medical office of Mississippi civil rights leader Dr. Gilbert R. Mason Sr. is being recognized for its historical significance thanks to the work of Tulane School of Architecture faculty member Laura Ewen Blokker.

The building, located in Biloxi, Mississippi, was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places due to association with Mason and his significant contributions to civil rights and medicine in the state. Blokker, assistant director and adjunct lecturer in the Preservation Studies program, authored the nomination as part of an effort by the City of Biloxi and Mississippi Department of Archives and History to document the history of predominantly African-American east Biloxi community (read more about the survey here).

A tireless activist and community organizer, Mason is best known for leading the charge to desegregate Biloxi’s beaches and organizing several “wade-ins.” He also pursued membership in local white medical organizations and was one of the first African-Americans appointed to a state board or commission since Reconstruction.

In 1966, Mason hired John T. Collins, a Tulane School of Architecture alumnus, to design a new office for his medical practice. The space would also headquarter his civil rights activity and professional advancements.

“With its strong horizontal lines, ribbon window, and facade articulated by brise-soleil inspired walls and overhang, it boldly announced the modern era had come to Division Street,” wrote Blokker in the nomination.

Designation to the official Federal list deems properties, “worthy of preservation for their historical significance” and opens opportunities for potential tax incentives.

To learn more about the nomination, read the official submission here.