Historic School Buildings
Historic schools are an important part of the historic fabric of the state and the neighborhoods they were built in. Too many of our schools have been lost to demolition, vandalism, the elements, or replacement with newer modern schools. While natural causes such as Hurricane Katrina have destroyed a handful of historic schools in the past few years, man-made demolition or abandonment is often the more likely cause of death for these buildings. One of Mississippi’s oldest public schools, the Speed Street School in Vicksburg, built in 1894 and one of only five 19th-century public schools, was torn down in March 2009 for its salvaged brick. The 1948 James Q. Allen gymnasium at the old Clinton High School became the center of a local controversy when the school board decided to demolish the building in order to sell the land on which it sat. Although a group of local citizens fought to save the building, the fate of the building was sealed when the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) declined to intervene. The gymnasium was torn down in November 2008. The Community Heritage Preservation Grant program, managed by the MDAH has provided much-needed support for these important community landmarks around the state, including the old Corinth High School; West Clay Agricultural High School (one of the few remaining agricultural high school complexes left statewide); the old Hattiesburg High School; Eureka School, Hattiesburg’s historically black high school; Prentiss Institute’s Rosenwald building; Midway School (Tishomingo County); the old Canton High School; and Pine Valley School (Yalobusha County). These school buildings—large and small, in towns and rural hamlets—hopefully will remain as useful centers for their surrounding communities for many years to come.
2015 Update – In Progress
Historic school buildings around the state are being preserved and given new life.