Southern Christian Institute
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Located on a rural stretch of Highway 80 outside of Edwards, the Southern Christian Institute was established in 1882 by the Home Missionary Society of the Disciples of Christ to offer religious education to African-Americans. From its modest beginnings in the former plantation home of Colonel McKinney L. Cook, the school grew in the period from 1900 to 1930, with several new buildings being constructed from lumber milled on site by students. Over the years, the educational mission was expanded, educating many future teachers. In 1953 the school merged with Tougaloo College and was later closed. In 1962, the campus was reopened as the site of statewide training for civil rights workers under the direction of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) activists Bob Moses and Bernice Robinson. The college once again saw new life in the 1970s as Bonner Campbell School of Religion, which used the campus for religious retreats and a Head Start center.
Today, the campus consists of four historic buildings, Smith Hall Girl’s Dormitory (1915), Allison Hall Cafeteria (1909), Administration and Classroom Building (1926) and Belding Hall Boy’s Dormitory (1935), as well as a bell tower (1926) and a water tower, all vacant and in poor condition.
2017 Update: No Progress
The owner of the property, the 8th District Episcopal A.M.E. Church, has stated that it plans to demolish the structures and redevelop the property.