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Natchez College

Natchez College

Circa 1885

Natchez, Mississippi (Adams County)

The State Baptist Convention of Mississippi established Natchez College in 1885.  The college opened shortly after the American Baptist Home Missionary Society of New York relocated the Natchez Seminary for educating African-American ministers from Natchez to Jackson, where it eventually evolved into Jackson State University.   Natchez College was one of several private institutions of higher learning established by religious organizations in Mississippi during the post-Civil War period.   Integration and the proximity of Alcorn College (now Alcorn State University) were instrumental in the ultimate failure of the college, which contributed significantly for over a century to the education and cultural life of African Americans in Southwest Mississippi.

The college occupied the antebellum estate known as Elmo with the mansion house initially serving as the main college building.  The mansion burned between 1901 and 1904 and was replaced by a new building.   Other new buildings were also constructed as part of the college complex.   For over a century, Natchez College played an important role in the education of African Americans in Mississippi.  For much of its life, it functioned primarily as a junior college and preparatory school.

Anne Moody, who wrote Coming of Age in Mississippi, was a student at Natchez College.  She wrote about the college, the Woodlawn neighborhood, and the town of Natchez in her landmark book, which has been on the required reading list of many American colleges and universities.   Within a short walking distance of Natchez College are the childhood home of author Richard Wright and the residence of noted jazz musician, Bud Scott.

The college is currently sitting vacant.  At one point, the Baptist Convention tried to get approval to demolish all of the buildings but an outcry from the neighborhood helped the Preservation Commission turn down the demolition request.

2015 Update – No Progress

The State Baptist Convention is actively seeking funding to restore the buildings for use as a retreat, but as yet, no restoration work has been completed.

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