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.
Update – In Progress
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. Phase One stabilization of the building was completed in 2012 and is now being built upon by Phase Two rehabilitation of the first floor thanks to continued grant assistance support from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. By the end of 2015, the Chalmers Institute will feature new floors, plumbing, and HVAC system, and electricity. The community is eagerly awaiting getting this beautiful building back into service for the region as an event and performing arts space, thereby contributing to Mississippi’s creative economy.