In 2013, Chris Myers asked the neighborhood to “look up” for a temporary art installment, a lighting project that illuminated the electrical substation in the heart of the downtown Fondren historic district.
The architect’s vision and coordination with several entities, including Entergy, Fondren Renaissance and Davaine Lighting’s Stephen Barnette, lead to a colorful Fondren Unwrapped that year with hopes the lighting could become permanent.
Today, at dusk, Myers, a Fondren resident and partner at CDFL Architects, gets his wish as Entergy flips the switch on the permanent dusk to dawn “up-lighting” of the steel structures at their Fondren substation.
“The colored lights at Fondren Unwrapped a few years ago were part of the impetus behind this,” said Entergy Mississippi spokesperson Mara Hartmann. “It was a hit with a lot of people and we knew that if we were to light any substation, the Fondren community would be one that would be very appreciative of this. It does, indeed, fit with the fun and funky Fondren vibe.”
Myers said in 2013, “Whether you’ve noticed it or not, Fondren has a skyline. When entering from Lakeland Drive, you can see almost every building in the commercial center of the neighborhood. The substation is there, too, but we’ve been trained not to notice such things. At night, it completely disappears. I want to change that.” He added he hoped the effort would “enhance the appearance of the neighborhood.”
“We plan to light the tower ever night,” Hartmann added. “It will be on a photo cell so that it comes on at dusk and goes off at dawn. These are LED lights, so they are very green and very energy efficient.”
While they were working on the tower project, linemen also took the chance to replace the substation’s State Street side street lamps. The project began at the insistence of BancorpSouth’s Vanda Crowe, who had noticed the 1960’s era lights that were there were damaged and beyond repair.
“I came back from lunch and saw that truck,” Crowe beamed last week about the new energy efficient LEDs. “I was so excited; the lights are going up!”
UPDATE: A “glitch” at the substation kept the lights from coming on Thursday night. No worries, the lineman on site told us. “I’ll have them working by Friday night, I promise.”