The Cutrer Mansion, an Italian Renaissance villa, was built in 1916 by J. W. Cutrer and his wife, Blanche Clark Cutrer. The fascination with the Cutrer Mansion by various groups like the Clarksdale Heritage Foundation, the Mississippi Heritage Trust, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is not only due to its architectural significance, but also its literary significance. Tennessee Williams, one of American’s greatest playwrights, lived in Clarksdale as a child. His time in Mississippi inspired the writer to model some of his characters after Clarksdale’s prominent citizens, such as the Cutrer family, and their lavish lifestyles. When the current owners of the mansion, St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, announced plans to raze the structure, efforts began to find a solution that would benefit both the preservation of Mississippi’s history and the needs of the St. Elizabeth’s Catholic School.
In 1999 when the Cutrer Mansion was listed as one of the state’s most endangered places, the mansion was set to be demolished. Delta State University and the community of Clarksdale put preservation in action by setting out to save this piece of Mississippi’s history. The Mississippi Heritage Trust was an active partner in this advocacy effort, working with local residents to secure initial funding for stabilization. With additional support from the state of Mississippi, the house has been fully restored. The rescue of the Cutrer Mansion is a shining example of successfully repurposed historic properties, as it now serves as the centerpiece of the Coahoma County Higher Education Center (CCHEC), a partnership between Coahoma Community College and Delta State University. The center is a cultural and educational venue offering a wide variety of programs and events to the community.