1914 – 1955
Mathiston, Mississippi (Webster County)
Wood College in Mathiston opened in 1886 as Woodland Seminary under the auspices of the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1897 it was renamed Bennett Academy, and in 1915 moved to its present location. It began teaching junior college courses in 1927 and was renamed Wood College in 1936. It operated as Wood College until closing in 2003. During its later years in operation, the residential college had about 250 students and numerous buildings on campus. The campus consists of a collection of early- to mid-20th century educational buildings, located in a pristine and undisturbed site. The oldest building on campus, Wood Hall, built in 1914 and renovated in 1986-87, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The open-air Cathedral of the Pines on the campus was completed in 1955 in a modern style varying from the largely traditional style of architecture found on the other campus buildings including Miller Hall (1935-36), the Dean’s Home (1924), the Gymnasium (1938), Wood Memorial Building (1950 and 1953), George Levy Hall (1948), Bennett Hall (1966), Miller Hall and others. The buildings were constructed largely with funds from the former North Mississippi Conference of United Methodist Women. The full campus has been surveyed and determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
After the College closed, all but one of the buildings on the campus was left vacant. If not properly cared for, the vacant buildings could quickly deteriorate from a lack of maintenance. The owners, whose wish is to sell the property, are considering diverse offers. If the land is sold for development, or if the land is divided and sold as individual properties, the idyllic setting and cohesion will be lost. Not only is the campus significant for its physical structures and layout, it also played a key role in the lives of countless individuals who attended the college.
2015 Update – No Progress
The Golden Triangle Planning and Development District has purchased the property. Progress is unknown.