Mendenhall High School Auditorium
207 Circle Drive | Mendenhall, MS
Listed as a Mississippi Landmark
Built in 1938 in the Art Deco style, the Mendenhall High School Auditorium was a point of pride for the community. Generations of students attended proms, presented plays and received their graduation diplomas on its stage until it was closed in 2011. When news went out that the Simpson County School District had plans to demolish the building to make room for a new “cafetorium”, as part of a larger building program to be funded by a bond bill, the citizens rallied. Besieged by letters, petitions and phone calls, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History designated the auditorium as a Mississippi Landmark in January 2012. The school district’s claims that the auditorium was structurally unsound were addressed in a January 2013 Structural Assessment by engineer Mark Watson, which found the building to be in good condition. Proponents of the demolition responded by introducing state legislation that would have revised the Antiquities Law to allow local governments to demolish Mississippi Landmarks if they could prove that they lacked the funds to restore the buildings (Senate Bill 2678) and attempts to cut funding for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (House Bill 1651), both of which failed. A year and a half after designating the Mendenhall High School Auditorium as a Mississippi Landmark, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees voted 5-2 on July 19, 2013 to allow demolition of this venerable historic building.
The Mendenhall High School Auditorium is no longer threatened, it is lost. On September 12, 2013, the Simpson County School District accepted a bid for $350,000 to demolish the auditorium and a 1950s classroom addition. The building was demolished in October 2013, earning the Simpson County School District failing marks in history, citizenship and stewardship.
Nominated by: The Committee to Save Our School