Donald Norris: Southern Vernacular

By  |  December 7, 2013

In his series Southern Vernacular, Don Norris documents the architecture of the 19th and early 20th century throughout the South. Norris writes:

I am cheered by vernacular architecture. That is particularly true for old buildings made of wood, and so it is especially true for the South. In addition to the historical neighborhoods in New Orleans and Natchez, the Gulf South is peppered with buildings from the time of (Stonewall) Jackson. Here, everyday houses and churches from the plantation culture still stand, and many are still used. Even later buildings, some from well into 20th century, can qualify as pure Southern vernacular. There is something aesthetically satisfying about this architecture: largely given over to function, it is simple, direct, and with a certain dignity.

Don Norris is an emeritus professor of biological sciences, University of Southern Mississippi. He lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. As a landscape photographer he is interested in the commonplace, with a focus on in vernacular architecture. He has photographed widely, but especially in small towns and rural settings in the South that prospered before the Civil War, and his photographs have been selected for many national and regional juried competitions and have won several awards. His work is part of private and public collections, including those of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, and Alabama's Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. To see more of his work, visit his website.


Jeff Rich is a photographer based in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Jeff currently teaches photography at Coastal Carolina University. He curates the OA’s weekly photo series, Eyes on the South.