Chalmers Institute/University of Holly Springs
The Chalmers Institute in Holly Springs is the oldest University building and the second oldest school building in the state. It was originally built in 1837 with publicly raised funds, becoming part of the University of Holly Springs in 1838. The intent was for the school to become the state university in Mississippi, an effort that ultimately failed when the University of Mississippi was located in Oxford. Subsequently, this building operated as the Chalmers Institute and then the Holly Springs Normal Institute for many years. Its masonry construction is rare for a structure that was built in, what was then, the frontier.
In 2003, a group of concerned citizens purchased the Chalmers Institute to save it from demolition and had it designated a Mississippi Landmark that year. The owners, Preserve Marshall County/Holly Springs Inc., received a $90,000 grant through a Senate Bond Issue in 2003, and the owners donated the property to the city. At the December 6, 2013, meeting of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees, the Chalmers Institute was awarded a $80,000 grant to replace the roof and begin interior restoration work.
On October 3, 2015, the Chalmers Institute hosted the fifth annual “Wrecking Ball” party, a clever event raising funds to continue the rehabilitation work in progress. The rehabilitation of Chalmers Institute is one of PMCHS’ preservation initiatives to protect the historic resources and cultural legacy of Marshall County and Holly Springs.
2017 Update – In Progress
The phase one, stabilization of the building was completed in 2012. In 2016 phase two, the rehabilitation of the first floor thanks to continued grant assistance support from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History was completed. The Chalmers Institute now feature new floors, plumbing, and HVAC system, and electricity. Phase three, the restoration of the second floor and reroofing is curently underway. The community is eagerly awaiting getting the rest of this beautiful building back into service. It has already been in use by the region as an event and performing arts space. In the summer of 2017, the building hosted the reception for the Behind the Big House Program and also hosted a hill country blues guitar workshop. Chalmers is coming back to life and contributing to Mississippi’s creative economy.