Today’s post is another HBCU that is close to my home in the Memphis area. Rust College is located in the small community of Holly Springs, MS, directly across the street from my last entry Mississippi Industrial College (MIC). I visited Rust the same day in late May that I visited MIC and although it was not the first time I was on the campus it was the first time I took photos.
Rust College was founded by members of the Freedman’s Aid Society, a supported group of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and local African American preacher Moses Adams on November 24, 1866. The local leader of the Freedman’s Aid Society, Reverend Albert Collier McDonald began as the sole instructor and president, taught the first classes in the Ashbury Methodist Episcopal Church in Holly Springs. There was no name to the nascent institution at this point. It was meant to be a school at all levels (primary, secondary, and post-secondary) and most of its initial students were at the primary level. In 1868, the school was taken under the control of the Freedman’s Aid Society outright and a parcel of land at the current location was purchased for the construction of the institution’s first building. Not long after, ground was broken on what would become the first building which opened in 1869. The funding for the building was provided by Reverend S.O. Shaw who donated $10,000 (about $197,500 in 2022 value) for the purpose. The young institution would subsequently be named Shaw University in his honor. Sometime in the early years of the college’s existence, a local carpenter named James Madison Wells became a trustee of the university. Wells was a former slave who was the son of a slave owner; his mother Peggy was enslaved by his father. A local carpenter, Wells was the father of Ida B. Wells, noted journalist, educator, and Civil Rights advocate. Their home in Holly Springs is now the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum which is a few blocks from campus.
Local reaction to the new institution were mixed. Some were against a school for African Americans but reports from the era note that a former local slave owner actively raised money for the college. The name, however, caused some confusion. The year prior to the founding of the college in Mississippi, another Shaw University was founded in Raleigh, North Carolina. That institution, named for Elijah Shaw, was (and is) an HBCU created in the same vein as the new Mississippi school. Thus, in 1892 the first name change occurred when the college was dubbed “Rust University” in honor of abolitionist Methodist Reverend Richard Rust.
Richard S. Rust was born in Massachusetts on September 12, 1815. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, where he was introduced to anti-slavery ideas. Upon hearing a lecture by British abolitionist George Thompson, he formed an anti-slavery group on campus. He and his two fellow co-founders of the group were subsequently expelled for their activities. He went on to attend the integrated Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire. He attended Wesleyan University and upon graduation entered the ministry. He helped found the Freedman’s Aid Society which supported northern teachers who went south after the Civil War to teach former slaves. He was an avid supporter of educational opportunities for African Americans and was instrumental in the founding of Wilberforce University, an HBCU in Ohio, where he served as the first president from 1858–1862. Wilberforce is the oldest private HBCU. Rust’s two sons attended Wilberforce. You can read more about him here.
The name would change again in 1914, this time owing the recognition that the small but growing school was not large nor comprehensive enough to carry the “university” moniker. The name became Rust College and it has remained so ever since. Still, pre-college instruction would continue. The elementary education program would cease in 1930; high school classes would continue until 1953. Rust sits on about 126 acres in Holly Springs, MS, just north of the historic downtown. Part of the site is a former plantation, and a good portion of the land was once the slave auction site for Holly Springs and the surrounding area. Today, nearly 1,000 students are enrolled in the school.
First, we have the most notable building on campus – the McCoy Administration Building. The building is named in honor of Lee M. McCoy, the eighth president of the college (1924-1957) and the first alumnus (class of 1905) to lead the institution. McCoy was a native Mississippian, born in Tippah County on May 30, 1882. His 33-year tenure as president has to be among the longest of any college president. He was the youngest of nine children, all of whom were born after the Civil War. According to records from the Public Works Administration, his parents were former slaves, and their surname came from his father’s initial enslavers in South Carolina. His father became a preacher and despite not being able to read, he reportedly knew much of the Bible by memory.
McCoy Hall was inspired by Independence Hall in Philadelphia and hence the striking resemblance. The two-story Colonial Revival Building is beautiful but did show its age in places on the exterior. That’s not terribly surprising given the age of the building and the common practice of deferred maintenance at virtually all colleges and universities. The tower is roughly seven stories tall. An addition was put in place in the rear of the building in 1972. The building came into being due to a tragedy. The college’s principal building had been Rust Hall, a large Romanesque structure that burned down on January 8, 1940. The loss impacted the college in both a practical and a spiritual sense. Rust Hall had been the campus centerpiece and was the location for the library, multiple classrooms, and even dorm rooms. The loss hit the campus community so hard that many felt the college should relocate. Some advocated a move to Jackson, MS, others to the closer community of Memphis. McCoy was determined to see the college stay in Holly Springs and worked diligently to raise funds to construct a new building. The timing of the fire at time when the effects of the Great Depression were still ever present and at the beginning of the American involvement in World War II made the process all the more difficult. Classroom space was at such a premium that for years classes were held in the president’s house. The building opened in 1947 having been built at a cost of roughly $300,000 (or about $4.5 million in 2022 value). A great proportion of the funds came from donations from the CME Churches of the state and region; about $60,000 came from white Methodist Churches with much of those funds collected on donations on “Race Relations Sundays”. The 1947-1948 academic year saw the college have 327 students.
The photos below begin with four views of the front façade looking north. The historical plate seen in the sixth photo is just to the left of the main entrance; the corner stone with the “Administration Building” inscription is just to the right of the main doors. The seventh photo is the vestibule just inside the main doorway. The nineth and tenth photos are plaques inside this area from 1949 noting donors who helped make the building possible. The banner noting the sesquicentennial (in 2016), was standing adjacent to the doorway. The last photo is an entrance on the west side of the structure (looking eastward).
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Next, we have the Leontyne Price Library. The library is named in honor of notable soprano Mary Violet Leontyne Price, the first African American to be a leading performer at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Ms. Price was born and raised in Mississippi, in the community of Laurel in the southern part of the state. Her mother attended Rust, although I do not believe she graduated. This association led her to be a vocal and active supporter of the college. She gave a concert in Jackson, MS, in March 1967 which raised $34,000 (nearly $300,000 in 2022) to support Rust. She was also served as National Co-Chair of the Rust College Capital Campaign in 1967/1968. She personally endowed a scholarship at Rust.
The library sits behind (to the north) of McCoy Hall in the heart of the campus. The building opened in 1970 and comes in at 30,440 square feet of space. The library was designed by local Memphis firm Gassner/Nathan/Browne Architects and Planners. The group designed many iconic buildings throughout the region including structures at Lemoyne-Owen College and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Firm co-founder Thomas Nathan singled out Price along with a library at Lemoyne-Owen and a student housing building at Vanderbilt as his favorites.
Sometime last year, I bought a copy of the book "Campus Buildings That Work", a 1972 piece edited by Linda Boring El-Shishini. The Leontyne Price Library has two pages of photos dedicated to it in the book. I had first read the book as an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee more than thirty years ago. As an aside, the collection of books on universities and collegiate architecture at UT is quite large if you are interested in such things and find yourself in Knoxville. The book is very representative of the times in two ways. First, it highlights collegiate structures built in the years just prior to publication. Second, it is very enthusiastic about the architecture of that time. So much so that I believe a more honest title would be "In Praise of Brutalism". Still, it is a good book that has wonderful photos of buildings of that era including several of the Price Library shortly after it opened.
The photos below begin with three views of the front of the building (looking north). The fourth photo is a stairway just inside the front door. The main stacks are on the second floor just up these stairs. The first floor has a small gallery with some very interesting African and African American art as seen in the last photo. I did not have time to fully explore the building and did not go to the third floor, but I believe it houses offices and stacks.
Next, we have the McCarty-Varnell Business, Computer Science, and Social Science Center. The McCarty portion of the name comes from a major donor to the college, Hyman Folk “Mac” McCarty Jr. McCarty transformed his father’s single feed and seed store operation into one of the biggest poultry businesses in the nation. McCarty was a notable philanthropist, giving funds to colleges and universities across the state, particularly to his alma mater the University of Mississippi. In addition, he gave funds to establish professorships at Jackson State University and Millsaps College. The Varnell name is in honor of Jeanne Thompson Varnell, part of the Hyde family of Memphis who created the AutoZone retail chain (and for whom a building is named at Rhodes College in Memphis). She was a long serving member of the Rust College Board of Trustees. She was also a member and the first female chair of the Board of Trustees of Lambuth University.
The first photo is the front of the building which faces southwest. The plaque in the second photo is by the front doors. The last three photos are interior shots of the first-floor hallway and a large lecture hall near the main entrance (photos three, four, and five respectively.
Next we have three buildings which are all connected to one another. The original structure of the three is the McDonald Science Building. Two additions to the structure were added over the years including the Emma B. Miller Annex (which as the name implies is really an addition and not a true attached building) and the Hamilton Science Center.
The McDonald portion of the building opened in 1965 and is one of three buildings erected during the presidency of Earnest A. Smith. The Science Building is not the first structure on the Rust campus to carry the McDonald name. According to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, there was a McDonald Hall on campus which opened in 1869 (according to information available on the Atlanta Journal Constitution website, construction began in 1867). I don’t know what became of that original structure. The name, of course, is in honor of Rust’s first president, Reverend Albert Collier McDonald. There was no plaque for the Miller Annex and I have been unable to find any information about the name or the addition online. The Hamilton Science Center is obviously the newer part of the complex. The building is named in honor of Dr. Ralph and Barbara Hamilton, who gave funds to support the construction of the building. Dr. Hamilton was a noted ophthalmologist here in Memphis. An alumnus of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC: class of 1952), he went on to be on faculty there. He was born in Knoxville, TN, and did his undergraduate work at UT Knoxville (class of 1950). I believe he met his wife while attending UTHSC although I cannot confirm that at this point. Mrs. Hamilton, a graduate of Rhodes, is, I believe, a native to West Tennessee. The Hamilton’s were significant philanthropists to causes in Memphis and the Mid-South. The UTHSC Hamilton Eye Center was created in part by one of their donations. Among their many contributions is the Hamilton Endowed Professorship in Ophthalmology at UTHSC. There is also a scholarship named for the Hamilton’s at Rust. In addition to the funds from the Hamilton’s, Rust received $1.5M grant from the Kresge Foundation to support the construction of the building at to do some remodeling McDonald building. The building was dedicated in a ceremony on November 9, 2008. Among the dignitaries present was former Mississippi Governor William F. Winter.
The photos below begin with a shot of the main entrance to McDonald on the south side of the building. The dedication plaque in the second photo is just to the right of the main entrance. The third photo shows McDonald and the Miller Annex when looking northward. The annex can be discerned by the exposed gutters, as well as different windows and trim work at the top as compared to McDonald. The fourth photo is the main entrance to the annex which is on the east side of the structure. The remaining photos are of the Hamilton Science Center. The front of the building is to the north of McDonald.
There are numerous residence halls on campus, and I had the opportunity to photograph three of them on my visit. These include Wiff Hall, Gross Hall, and Davage-Smith Hall.
The 1st photo below is Wiff Hall. The building was, obviously, undergoing a significant renovation during my visit. In addition to work on the inside of the building I could see that brickwork on the front façade had been repointed. Wiff opened in 1965, the building historically had space for 96 students. Many colleges expand individual student space when renovating old dorms and that will be the case with Wiff Hall. The dorm was previously only for women, but it will be coed after the renovation. Wiff is one of three buildings constructed during the presidency of Earnest A. Smith, Rust’s ninth president (the other two being Gross Hall and the McDonald Science Center). I was unable to find out for whom the building is named.
The second and third photos are of the front Gross Hall which, like Wiff, opened in 1965. Since it opened, Gross has been a dorm for men. The building is scheduled for a remodel to begin sometime in the next year or so. Unlike the Wiff Hall renovation, the floorplan of Gross is not changing. I was unable to find out anything about the name of the building.
The set concludes with a photo of Davage-Smith Hall. The first part of the building’s name is in honor of Matthew S. Davage, who became the first African American to be president of Rust in 1920 (his term in office was from 1920 to 1924). Davage was a native of Louisiana, having been born in Shreveport on June 16, 1879. He served as president of five colleges during his lifetime. These included George R. Smith College (Missouri), the Haven Institute (Mississippi), Samuel Huston College (Texas), and Clark University (Georgia). In addition to these (and Rust obviously), he was interim president of the combined Huston-Tillotson College. He also served on the board of trustees of eight colleges, and from 1940 until 1952 he was Director for all African American colleges and universities for the Department of Higher Education of the Methodist Board of Education. The second part of the name is in honor of Earnest A. Smith, Rust’s ninth president.
Next, we have the Doxey Alumni Fine Arts Communications Center. The building is named in honor of Ms. Natalie Doxey, a Rust alumnae who would stay at the college for most of her career. She founded the Rust “A 'Cappella Choir” in 1930 and the group would remain well known through her tenure there. In addition to routine concerts and tours, under her direction the group would often tour to raise funds for the college. She stayed with Rust as a music instructor and director of the choir until her retirement in 1969. Ms. Doxey was born in 1880. She passed in 1973, a year before the building which now carries her name was opened.
The set below begins with two views of the front (west side) of the building. The third photo is a portrait of Ms. Doxey which hangs just inside the vestibule which can be seen more fully in the last photo.
The first photo below is the James A. Elam Chapel. It is, of course, named for James Elam. Elam founded Belmonte Park Laboratories in Ohio and used the wealth this venture afforded him to be a philanthropist for many causes. He was a significant contributor to his alma mater, Central State University. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Rust in April 2000. The chapel was completed in 2001. The chapel sits near the main campus entrance on the south side of the grounds.
The second photo is the R.A. and Ruth M. Brown Mass Communications Center. The building is named in honor of Rainsford A. Brown and his wife Ruth of Iowa. Mr. Brown was active in the Methodist Church and became a trustee of Rust College as well as for the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Cornell College. There is also a scholarship, the Rainsford A. and Ruth M. Brown Award at Rust. The building sits just southeast of McCoy Hall.
Lastly, we have the W.A. McMillan Multipurpose Center and Kinzell Lawson Gymnasium. Dr. William Asbury McMillan was the 10th president of Rust, a position he held for twenty-six years. He had previously been a dean there. McMillan was a native of North Carolina. He completed his undergraduate studies at Johnson C. Smith University and his master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Rust also has a scholarship in his name. Kinzell Lawson was a longtime fixture in Rust athletics. He coached basketball, track, and when they had it, football (Rust ceased having a football team in 1965). He passed away in December 2000 at the age of 91. The first two photos are the front of the building and the third was taken just inside the front doors.
Today’s entry is another defunct institution. Unlike the only other one covered to date (the Memphis College of Art), this one has long been closed. The Mississippi Industrial College (MIC) was founded in 1905 by the Mississippi Conference of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Elias Cottrell was the driving force and founder of the college. He had been working to open a school which would serve students at all levels (primary, secondary, and post-secondary) since the 1890’s. He established a board of trustees in 1900 and began the arduous process of fund raising. MIC opened its doors to students in January 1906. Some 200 students were enrolled that year. By 1908, enrollment grew to more than 450. The vast majority of students were not at the post-secondary level, however. Records indicate that most were primary school students. Still, the college was in existence and growing.
The site in Holly Springs, MS, consisted of some 120 acres (donated in 1903) and were situated on Route 7, or Memphis Road as it was known (it is now referred to as Memphis Street). Apparently, the decision to name the school with “Industrial” in the title was two-fold. Although some industrial skills-type courses would be offered, the curriculum was more general at the lower levels and best described as a teacher’s college with a liberal arts tradition at the collegiate level. The Industrial moniker appealed to students and their parents who sought practical skills leading to employment and was a less controversial orientation to the white populace who did not feel that another liberal arts college was needed for African Americans in the region. You see, Rust College, another HBCU and a liberal arts college itself, was located directly across the street. Founded in 1866 by the United Methodist Church, Rust had been in existence for nearly fifty years when MIC opened its doors.
Given the proximity of the two schools, one might wonder why MIC came into being. Unlike MIC, Rust was founded and funded by the white Methodist Church. It is named for Reverend Richard S. Rust, an antislavery activist from Cincinnati, OH. MIC, on the other hand, was funded by the African American Methodist Church, and its leadership and most of its faculty were not only black but were themselves educated at HBCU’s. Rust, with white supporters and many white faculty, was quite a different institution, and MIC was quite proud of its heritage. I will cover Rust in a future post.
Upon its founding and for many years thereafter, students had daily chapel time and wore uniforms. The institution would carry on for 77 years. Unfortunately, desegregation had an unintended negative consequence for MIC. As was the case for some other HBCU’s, desegregation resulted in declining enrollment. African American students, now free to enroll in historically white institutions, chose to do so. Funding for the white schools had always been more robust and the school’s benefited from such wealth with more faculty, majors, and support services. The decline hit MIC hard. By the 1970’s enrollment drops were causing increasing financial hardships. In the early 1980’s, Rust College floated the idea of buying MIC, but the overture was dismissed by MIC. Federal funding cuts in 1981 led to the institution’s closing in 1982. The campus has been vacant since. A few years after its closing, the campus was acquired by Rust College who has maintained ownership of the site ever since.
Despite much of the core campus being declared a historical site in 1980, it has largely been left to ruin. You can find photos on the internet of the campus over the last couple of decades showing the slow demise of the buildings.
The day I visited this May began as a bright, sunny morning. But after my quick drive down from the Memphis area, clouds had rolled in, and it threatened rain. A gloomy feel and a damp silence permeated the air. It was, given the state of decay of the campus, both appropriate and eerie. Immediately after photographing the remains of the campus, I crossed the street to visit Rust College and within a half an hour on that campus the sun came out again. It was as if ghosts of MIC had arranged the gloom for my visit to add an air of grief at the state of the place.
We begin with the college marker set in front of the Carnegie Auditorium Building. The sign is obviously a more recent addition, given that it notes the place as a historical site.
Behind the college sign is the Carnegie Auditorium and Library. The Colonial Revival structure opened in 1923 and included a 2,000-seat auditorium and the college’s library. When it opened, it was the largest auditorium open African Americans in the state. The roof has long since collapsed and vegetation covers part of the façade and even inside as well (at least in the areas where I could see in). Just this month, Rust College was awarded $500,000 from the National Park Service to restore the building. Obviously, $500k is not sufficient to bring such a large structure back to life in any usable form. I don’t know whether the goal is to raise additional funds or to simply use the existing amount to stabilize the building in a static form for reference. The building was designed by the Nashville-based architectural firm McKissack & McKissack. The firm was founded by Moses McKissack III in 1905 along with his brother Calvin. The McKissack’s have been architects since, with the family now operating a firm in Washington, DC. The building is a shaped as a “T” with the front entrance facing Memphis Street (looking east). Given the name and it use, in part, as a library, I am certain that at least half of the funds for its construction came from the Carnegie Foundation (which typically provided half of the funding for the buildings that carried the Carnegie name). However, scant information about the history of the building is available online (at least that I could easily find). The first photo is the front of the building, followed by two views of the north side of the structure. The last is south side.
Immediately adjacent to the Carnegie Auditorium, to the north, sits Hammond Hall. Hammond was a residence hall for men and was designed in the Jacobean Revival style. It opened in 1907. I have been unable to find out for whom the building is named. It was designed by the Jackson, TN based architecture firm Heavener and McGhee. As you can see, the building’s residents have long since departed only to be replaced by ivy and a vulture sitting atop the front façade. Hammond can be seen in the first two photos.
The building directly adjacent to Hammond to the north, seen in the second and third photos is Davis Hall, a gymnasium. I could not find any information about the building online. MIC had athletics for men, but not women, and were known as the Tigers.
To the south of Carnegie is Washington Hall, which served as the administration building for the college and also contained classrooms. It was named for Booker T. Washington. The Colonial Revival building opened in 1910. The first photo below is north side of the structure. This is followed by three photos of the front of the building. The fourth and fifth are of the south side. The sixth is the rear of the building. Even the sidewalks are slowly giving way to nature.
On the lawn in front of Washington Hall is what appears at first glance to be a headstone, seen here in the last photo of this series. It is, in reality, a tribute to William M. Frazier, MIC’s seventh president. His tenure at MIC was 29 years, with 24 of those as president. The marker was a gift of the MIC classes of 1955 and 1956. I am not sure when it was installed, but it was on the campus in the 1970's (see here).
Just beyond Washington Hall is the now vacant spot where Cathrine Hall (that’s not a typo, there is no “e” after the “h” in the name) once stood. It was demolished in 2012. It was a beautiful building, and the first on campus. Opened in 1905, it was a three-story building with a large patio in front. It served as both a dorm for women and classrooms (although I believe later the classrooms were used for other purposes). Cathrine cost around $35,000 to build which is about $1.149 million in today's value. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and designated a Mississippi Landmark structure in in 2002. You can see photos of it in various states of decay online. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has photos of it deteriorating away in 2011 as well as one color photo of it in June 1979 here.
Behind Washington Hall were two small rectangular structures that were classroom buildings. I have seen old aerial photos of them. They look to have been rather nondescript buildings that were not named (at least I have found no records which have a name listed for them). One appears to be more or less gone - collapsed and covered with vegetation. The other, which sat closer to the rear of Washington Hall, is still visible. Seen here, it is basically a shell with the remains of the roof largely inside. Beside it is a sidewalk that apparently led to a service building of some sort (I have seen maps with a building outline but no name) but is now a path to nowhere.
Old, abandoned buildings can be quite a sad site. To see an entire college left to ruin like this is heartbreaking. This is particularly so given the history of the college.
As I noted at the beginning of this post, you can find lots of photos of the campus since its closing online. Much fewer are photos of the campus when the college was operational and more limited yet is any substantive information about the place. If you would like to know more about the buildings, you can read the National Register of Historic Places application for the college site here. Also, Dr. Paul Batesel, a professor of English at Maryville State University in North Dakota, runs the blog America’s Lost Colleges. It is a wonderful blog and among all too many other closed colleges he’s covered he too has an entry on MIC which you can read here.
Today's post is the Mississippi State University. I have been to State on a number of occasions, most of which were for student recruitment. A good number of State alums apply for the various programs in my department, and prior to the pandemic I had participated in graduate student fairs there. The students and staff there are a friendly group. In fact, of all of the colleges and universities I have visited in the state, the people on the campus in Starkville have always been the friendliest. It is always a pleasure to be there.
Mississippi State was not the first Land Grant institution in the state. The state designated the University of Mississippi and Alcorn State University land grants in 1871. Whereas Alcorn State was able to make a go of it, the agriculture mission never caught on in Oxford. Ole Miss was also losing faculty at the time and in 1876 it gave up the Land Grant designation. Alcorn State soldiered along as the only Morrill Act institution until 1878. The state created legislation that year which, in addition to continuing to support Alcorn State as a land grant, created a new school – the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Mississippi. The law creating the new school was signed by then Governor John M. Stone on February 28, 1878. A board of trustees was established and met for the first time on April 11th. They would meet again on July 24th that year to consider a location for the new school. A variety of locations were considered with most being in the central and northern areas of the state as southern Mississippi was not known as an agricultural area. The board was most interested in locations in the so-called “Black Belt” area of central Mississippi, so named for its black soil which was crucial to cotton farming. By the board’s next meeting on December 13th, the potential sites had been narrowed to Meridian, Starkville, and West Point. In the end, Starkville was selected. In part, the decision was likely influenced by board member Colonel W.B. Montgomery who was from the town and who had influence in the state. Starkville was also the county seat (Oktibbeha County) and had both a rail and a telegraph line. The town, originally named Boardtown, was subsequently renamed for Revolutionary War veteran John Stark. The board purchased 390 acres of land owned by William Bell at a price of only $2,450 (roughly $70,438 in today’s value). By any standard, the price was a bargain.
The name of the new school would be, like many others of the land grant cohort, Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College, or Mississippi A&M. When Morrill had begun the process of creating the land grant legislation, he had viewed the development of such schools to mirror that of the national military colleges at West Point and Annapolis. When they came into being, many new land grant schools had a military preparation program and the new A&M would be no exception, developing a Corps of Cadets from the outset. This is still reflected on campus today with the central quad still carrying the name the Drill Field. The university opened in a grand ceremony on October 6, 1880. The dormitory was not yet ready, and students had to find housing among the populace of Starkville. Some 354 students enrolled that fall. Interestingly, all students were expected to work on campus. The condition was not an option nor a form of financial aid. A good deal of work making the nascent grounds into a working campus was completed by students. The university was for men only until 1882 when the first women enrolled. Marianna DuQuercron and Mattie C. McKay, would be the first women to graduate from the university. The institution would revert to men only in 1913 and would not return to coeducation until 1930. A YMCA opened on campus in 1882 and in time would have a notable building on campus (see below). The university would graduate its first fully educated at State class in 1883. In 1885 an alumni association was created. The fledgling school also graduated its first master’s degree student in 1885 (the first doctoral graduate, Si Marchbanks with a Ph.D. in Agronomy, would not occur until 1953).
Reflecting the change in its mission and the scope of its offerings, the college changed its name to Mississippi State College in 1932. That same year, it became a founding member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) athletics conference and has remained in the conference since. In 1958, some 22 years after the graduate school was established, the name would change again to the current Mississippi State University to reflect the comprehensive graduate offerings then in place. Today, State enrolls over 23,000 students, has a faculty of nearly 1,400, and maintains an endowment valued at about $700 million dollars.
The athletic teams were known for a time as the Maroons owing to the university’s colors of maroon and white. The bulldog was already the mascot, however, and in time the university’s teams were known as the Bulldogs. The bulldog is the mascot of about 45 college teams across the U.S., including State’s SEC rival the University of Georgia. I’ve covered two other schools with bulldog mascots already – California State University, Fresno, and Union University. We start with one of several bulldog statues on campus, this one just outside Davis Wade Stadium.
The first building I will review is the iconic Lee Hall which anchors the Drill Field. Lee Hall is named for Stephen D. Lee, the first president of Mississippi State. Lee served in that role from 1880 to 1899, making his 19-year tenure the longest of any Mississippi State president to date. Groundbreaking for the structure occurred in 1909 and it was completed the following year. It was designed by the architectural firm R.H. Hunt and Company. You may recall that they designed the Lowrey Memorial Baptist Church on the campus of Blue Mountain College I posted about last year. Reuben Harrison Hunt designed collegiate buildings and other structures all over Mississippi and the Southeast. It was designated a Mississippi Landmark structure in 1984.
The photos below begin with two views of the main entrance to Lee which faces the Drill Field. The plaque in the third photo which commemorates the 2004 renovation of the building, is located just inside the front entrance. In the main hall in front of a large lecture hall is the mural seen in photos four and five. As noted in the sign in the sixth photo, it is the World War I Memorial Mural. These photos do not do it justice. It is an awesome piece that honors the fifty-five State students (then Mississippi A&M) who died in the Great War. It was painted by William Steene. The seventh photo is a view of the interior just adjacent to the mural. The last photo is a memorial to President Lee which stands in the quad in front of his namesake building. It was installed in 1913. The street behind the building also carries President Lee's name. Lee Boulevard stretches from Davis Wade Stadium to state Route 182.
The photos in the next set are of McCain Engineering Building, one of several engineering buildings on campus. McCain is another building designed by R.H. Hunt and Company. It opened in 1905. A fire broke out in the building requiring a renovation in 1920. Most recently, another renovation was completed in 2002. Like Lee Hall, it was named a Mississippi Landmark in 1984. It opened with the simple moniker “Engineering Building” but would later be named in honor of Dewey M. McCain, a professor and long-time chair of the Department of Civil Engineering. In 1956 the first computer in the state arrived on campus through a deal with IBM which offered the computer to the university for the sum $20,000 per year for its use. The contract called for the university to use the computer only half-time; it could lease its use out the rest of the time for a profit. President Hilbun founded a committee to oversee the use of the device, an IBM 650, which would be housed on the second floor of McCain.
The first two photos below are of the front entrance to the building. The dedicatory plaque for the renovation seen in the third photo is just inside the vestibule. The two plaques seen in photos four and five are to Dewey McCain, the building's namesake, and James Worth Bagley, for whom the College of Engineering is named. Bagley, a two-time State alumnus (classes of 1961 and 1966), was a successful businessman in the technology (semiconductor) sector. He was Chairman of the Board and Chief Operating Officer of Lam Research in 2002 when he and wife Jean gave $25 million to support the college. The last three photos are interior shots.
Carpenter Hall is a Beaux Arts style building that is another of R.H. Hunt’s designs on the State campus. Ground was broken for the building in 1909 and completed in 1911. It faces the Drill Field looking toward the northwest. The building is named in honor of Randle Churchill Carpenter, the first engineering graduate of the university (from the class of 1895). Carpenter would go on to chair the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1918 to 1938. It was designated a Mississippi Landmark in June 1985. When it opened, Carpenter was known as the "New Chemistry Building". The first two photos are the main entrance (Drill Field side) of the building. The plaque in the third photo is just inside the main entrance as are the painting of Dr. Carpenter and the second plaque (photos four and five). The art installation in the last photo is in a courtyard behind the building.
Below we have the Mitchell Memorial Library. Named for Fred T. Mitchell, the tenth president of the university. It was one of seven buildings completed in 1950; all were dedicated on the same day, October 24th. Mitchell was president when the building opened. It has been enlarged and renovated over the years. Part of the collection of the library are the papers of John C. Stennis, long serving US Senator for Mississippi and the “father of the modern Navy”. It is also home to the Ulysess S. Grant Presidential Library and Museum. It is interesting to me that the man who many consider responsible for the Union's victory in the Civil War would have a presidential library in Mississippi. It is only one of six university libraries to house a presidential collection. Overall, Mitchell houses more than 2.6 million volumes. The first photo below is the main (Drill Field side) of the building, which is followed by three interior views. Just outside the library is a nice sitting area with trees and the fountain seen in the last photo of this set: the Wiley Carter Memorial. Carter was an alumnus (class of 1958) and a longtime political staffer, most notably as the assistant to Senator Thad Cochran.
Next, we have the Swalm Chemical Engineering Building, which was completed in 2001. When an MSU alumnus named David Swalm provided funds for a chemical engineering building on the southern edge of the Drill Field facing Lee Hall, he wanted his building to be a mirror image of Lee. And so it is, a reminder of alumni affection for campus facilities. Swalm made a fortune in the petrochemical business in Texas. He founded the Texas Olefins Company (later Texas Petrochemicals) in 1968 with $6,000. He would sell the firm in 1996 for $500 million (about $945 million in today’s value). He donated better than $30 million to State over the years which, in addition to naming the building in his honor, branded the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering for him. The 95,000 square-foot building cost $18 million (about $34 million today) to construct. Part of his donations to State include $3 million to endow a scholarship for graduates of Jackson State University to attend graduate school at MSU. He also endowed an engineering scholarship at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.
The first two photos are the front of the building as seen from the Drill Field, and the third is the interior as seen as you enter the building. The fourth photo is the floor just inside the front entrance. It may not be easy to recognize given the angle, but the terrazzo floor is designed like a magnolia leaf. Mississippi is known as the Magnolia State, it is the state's official flower, and the flower adorns the state flag. The state flag, by the way, was designed by Starkville-based graphic artist Rocky Vaughan.
To the left and behind Swalm in the last photo you can see the Hand Chemical Lab, a modernist structure that opened in 1963. The building is named in honor of William Flowers Hand, who became the chair of the chemistry department when it was placed in the school of agriculture in the early years of the 20th century. Hand was a two-time alumnus of the university (classes of 1893 and 1895) who went on to get his doctorate at Columbia. He went on to be a dean and a vice president at State.
Below we have photos of McCool Hall, home to the State College of Business. The building is named in honor of E.B. McCool and his wife Ines. The story goes that President William Giles was sitting in his office one day when E.B. McCool (Barney McCool to most, Dutch McCool to his friends) came in and offered money to support the business school. The state was going to appropriate money for a new building but was about to cut $500,000 from the budget. McCool offered to give stock from his investment in the Holiday Inn chain to equip the building if the state agreed to not cut the funding. McCool was one of the original investors in the hotel chain. Giles immediately phoned Lieutenant Governor Paul Johnson with the proposal. The timing was prophetic as the state senate was debating the funding on the state house floor when he called. Johnson took the offer to the senate which approved the budget without cutting the $500k. The rest is history. You can read more about that very interesting meeting here. You can see a photo of Mr. and Mrs. McCool at the site of the building’s construction here. The first two photos are the front of the building which faces the Drill Field. Just inside the main entrance are portraits of Mr. and Mrs. McCool seen photos three through five. The original dedication plaque can be seen in the sixth photo. The next three photos are interior shots. The seventh photo was taken just inside the main entrance. Photos eight and nine are interior shots of an addition to the rear of the building which was completed in 2003. The $10 million (about $16.5 million in 2022 value) addition increased the overall size of the building by some 52,000 square feet. Initially, the funding was given by an anonymous source. Later, it was revealed that the funds were given by alumnus (class of 1949) Leo W. Seal, Jr. Seal's father, Leo Seal, Sr., was also an alumnus of State (class of 1911), as are his sons Leo W. Seal, III (class of 2000) and Lee (also class of 2000).
Below we have three photos of the Perry Cafeteria. Perry, designed by architect Theodore C. Link, was completed in 1921 in the Gothic style. It was for a time the largest cafeteria in the U.S. When it opened, it was known simply as the Cafeteria Building. Perry is named for Mr. George D. Perry (class of 1919), thanks to his widow Jane who donated a $1.5 million for the renovation of the building in 1993 (which is about $3 million in today’s value). Mr. Perry was named the 1972 National Alumnus of the Year. He was a member and chair of the MSU Foundation for many years. The street that runs to the building (the portion directly in front of the building is now a pedestrian mall) is named George Perry Street. The building has two entrances on the same side on either end of the building (seen here in photos one and three). The plaque seen in the second photo is by the doorway in the first photo.
The first four photos below are of the YMCA Building, which stands adjacent to the Colvard Union. It was designed by architect Noah Webster Overstreet, an alumnus of the university (class of 1888 I believe). The building was constructed beginning in 1914 and was complete by 1915. Overstreet was the first registered architect in Mississippi. The construction of the building was aided by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The foundation provided $40,000 (about $1.1 million today) on the condition that State raise the remaining $20,000 needed for construction. The Young Men's Christian Association had been active on campus since at least 1882. As was the case on many college campuses, the YMCA served as the student union for decades. There was an eatery in the basement called “The Shack”. The building has been modified and renovated from time to time, with the most recent being a significant work completed in 2018. It was designated a Mississippi Landmark in March 1985. The day I visited campus, the Dean of Students, whose office is in the building, was sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch completing some paperwork. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted for a moment about the weather. It was a southern experience straight out of a movie. The first two photos are of the front of the building. The plaque seen in the third photo is on the side of the front porch. The fourth photo is the side of the building.
Standing directly beside the YMCA is George Hall, seen here in the fifth photo. George was designed by architect P.J. Krause. It opened in 1902 as the student infirmary. The building is named in honor of U.S. Senator James Z. George. After his death, it became known as the James Z. George Memorial Hospital. George worked to get Federal funding for the construction of the facility. The campus would be hard hit by the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918, so much so in fact that a temporary embalming facility would be constructed in the basement. It served as the student health center until 1985. It now houses a variety of support offices. The view of the building, which stands between the YMCA and Magruder Hall, is toward the Y.
The last two photos of this set are of the front of Magruder Hall. Magruder was a result of PWA funding and was constructed beginning in 1937. It opened in 1938. Georgian Revival in style, the building was designed by Starkville-based architects Stevens & Johnston. It is named in honor of W.H. Magruder who was the head of the English department from 1883 to 1908. It began life as a dorm. I am not sure when it changed roles, but today it houses the Department of Psychology.
Below we have Montgomery Hall, another Beaux Arts structure which was designed by architect R.H. Hunt. It was originally called the "Scientific Building" when it opened in 1902 but was later named in honor of Colonel W.B. Montgomery who was a member of the first Board of Trustees and who was the driving force behind the university being located in Starkville. It housed the library for a time, which moved into Harned Hall in 1921. It houses a variety of student support offices today. I love the brickwork on the front of the building over the first floor windows.
The set below are of Harned Hall. Harned stands out both due to its Gothic style and its brick which is among the lightest on campus. The building opened in 1921 and at the time was simply called the Biology Building. It was named for Professor Horace H. Harned, who chaired the department of microbiology for many years. The building is the work of architects Theodore C. Link and Wilbur T. Trueblood. Both were notable architects of the era. Link designed the Mississippi capitol building and, along with Trueblood, many structures on the “new” campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Trueblood taught at Washington University for a time. They were based in Saint Louis. As noted above, Harned became the home to the library after it moved out of Montgomery Hall. It would remain in Harned until the Mitchell Memorial Library was completed.
The set begins with two views of the Gothic entryway at the front of the building. I love the Gothic style and despite the fact that both Harned and the Perry Cafeteria do not match the bulk of campus I think it fits in well none the less. The next four photos are in that entryway, with views of dedicatory plaques and the arches of the vestibule. I love the fact that the doors have curved tops to match the archway! What a lovely element!
The seventh photo shows a 1960’s-era addition to the building. It has a similar shade of brick but lacks any attempt at copying the Gothic style. The last photo is a hard to read cobble stone for the class of 1932 located in the sidewalk which runs in front of the building.
The next set of photos are of some rather plain box-type buildings. First, we have three photos of the Howell Building. The building is much larger than these photos imply. Although the structure itself is rather plain, I did like the light fixtures by the front entrance. I was not able to find out much about the building or its name. It currently houses the Building Construction program and components of the arts programs. Photos four and five are of Freeman Hall, one of several building that appears to be part of an old dorm complex which has been transformed into more general buildings. The fourth photo is the front of the building (note the red metal art piece to the right of the front door) as approached from the street. The fifth was taken just inside the front door and shows a rather unique elevator which was added at some point. The building, which houses part of the art department, shows its age. As was the case with the Howell Building, I was not able to find out anything else about the building or its name. Photos six and seven are of Moore Hall, which sits directly behind Freeman Hall. It too appears to be an old dormitory. It houses the Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion program. I was not able locate any additional information about the building or its name. The last photo is Memorial Hall which also began life as a dorm. It now houses the Center for Distance Education and an English language institute.
Next, we have the Cullis Wade Depot, a relatively new addition to campus. The Wade Depot houses the university Welcome Center, bookstore, and, of all things, a clock museum. Charles Cullis Wade and his wife Gladys were big supporters of State. Cullis was an alumnus (Class of 1940) who would enter business in several domains. He owned a number of businesses including a construction company, a tree farm, cattle farms, and a radio station. He and Gladys gave generously to the athletics department over the years. They became collectors of antique clocks, some 400 of which are now housed in the Cullis and Gladys Wade Museum inside the Depot. The Depot stands adjacent to Davis Wade Stadium, home of the Mississippi State Bulldogs football team (see below). The first photo below is the back of the building. The next two are the main entrance with a large clock emblazoned with the Mississippi State logo. I love the glass clock face!
Below is the front of MacArthur Hall. It opened as a dorm for the exclusive use of athletes. It is a six-story Modernist structure and was a plush facility for its day. During a time when the football program was having some difficulties, the powers that be hoped the new dorm would aid in recruiting star athletes. The building is named in honor of James Wesley McArthur. I was not able to identify who James McArthur was, and when I first saw the building, my mind went to another university and another McArthur Hall but the two are not related. There is a McArthur Hall at the University of Miami, and it shares more in common with the McArthur Hall at Mississippi State than just the name. The J. Neville McArthur Engineering Building (the J. in this McArthur’s name is also for James) was a gift of the man of the same name who launched a dairy in south Florida in the early 20th Century. That building, also a Modernist work, was made possible by a $1 million gift from the other Mr. McArthur. The last connection is what really had me thinking it was the same person at first: J. Neville McArthur was an alumnus of State. I didn’t realize my mistake until I saw the dedication plaque for this McArthur Hall which had the different middle name. I forgot to take a photo of the plaque, perhaps due to my surprise over the odds of two men sharing a common name who had buildings on separate campuses named for them. This McArthur Hall ceased being a dorm at some point and now houses human resources, payroll, and other support services. It was designed the architectural firm Thomas S. Jones and Associates, a Starkville-based firm. Construction began in 1969 and was completed in 1970.
The set below are of the Colvard Student Union. The Union is named for Dean W. Colvard, the 12th president of the university. Colvard was a North Carolina native and a graduate of Berea College. He did his master’s degree at the University of Missouri and later earned his Ph.D. at Purdue University. He came to State from North Carolina State University in Raleigh where he was dean of agriculture. One important facet of his tenure was the creation of the Mississippi State University Foundation in 1962. But Colvard became known more for his actions regarding a single basketball game than just about anything else. The University of Mississippi hit the national news when James Meredith attempted to register for classes. Meredith, an African American, attempted to enroll at Mississippi beginning in 1961. He was denied twice based solely on his race, but a court ruling in September 1962 gave him entry. Riots ensued resulting in two deaths, numerous arrests, and deployment of army troops to quell the violence. Colvard watched from Starkville and vowed to not let such troubles happen at State. The issue of integration would come to Colvard and State not from student enrollment, but from a winning basketball program. State had won the SEC basketball championship four times from 1959 to 1963. When the team beat Tulane on February 25, 1963, it had an opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament. A tradition had been that no Mississippi team could play an integrated opponent, a fact which had kept the squad out of tournament play in the past. In the lead up to the March tournament, it looked as though State would first match up would be Loyola University of Chicago. Loyola was integrated; indeed, four of its five starters were African Americans. A groundswell of support from the student body wanted the team to play. The support was not so much for making a statement on Civil Rights as it was for seeing the team move on in play and in the rankings. Colvard supported the team’s playing Loyola, as did the State Athletics Director Wade Walker who made an announcement on March 2nd to that effect. Many in the state were not pleased. State senator, MSU alumnus, and member of the university's board Billy Mitts led the charge to prevent the team from playing Loyola and to have Colvard fired. The majority of the board disagreed with the notion and voted not only to support the playing of the game but to note their continuing faith in Colvard. In the end, the Bulldogs travelled to East Lansing, Michigan, and lost to Loyola 61 to 51. Mississippi State would finally integrate in the Fall of 1965 when Richard Holmes applied for and was admitted to the university without much fanfare and very little upset.
The building opened in 1964 and at the time was called the University Union. It has been modernized and expanded since that time, most notably in a major upgrade begun in 2006 and completed the following year; the Union then reopened in January 2008. It is quite nice and during my various to visits to campus I have always been pleased to see just how clean it is kept. The photos below begin with a view of the building from across the street by the Chapel of Memories (see below) from across Lee Boulevard. That portion of the building faces the YMCA Building. The second and third photos are of the Bully Bulldog statue that stands before the entrance on that side. As noted at the beginning of this post, there are several bulldog statues on campus, most being by the football stadium. Banners adorning the side of the building can be seen in the fourth and fifth photos. Inside you will find the portrait of Dr. Colvard (photo six) and on the Drill Field-side entrance an extremely large photo of what appears to be a funeral procession (photo seven). The picture is enormous, being at my best guess at least 12 feet high and 18 feet across. It appears to be a funeral for one of the bulldog mascots. There is no description nearby, however, and this is only a guess on my part. If you know, please leave a comment. The last photo is an interior shot from the second floor. The doors behind this sitting area lead to the location where most graduate school fairs are held.
Below we have the Chapel of Memories, a remarkably beautiful structure on campus. The building was completed in 1965. It was built with bricks recovered from a building called “Old Main”. Old Main was a beloved men’s dorm that had a large auditorium. The structure burned down in 1959. Supposedly, then State President Colvard had the idea that the bricks from Old Main should be used in the construction of the chapel. I have seen the inside and it is quite beautiful. Unfortunately, it was locked during this visit. The lead architect on the project was Charles Gardner of the Jackson-based Dean & Pursell architectural firm. The firm is still in existence today but has changed its name to Dean Architecture.
A notable feature is the Perry Tower. Like Perry Cafeteria, the tower is also named after George D. Perry, who, along with his wife Jane, gave the funds to build the carillon. The room containing the chimes is named in honor of William Gearhiser who was caretaker of the Chapel for many years.
The photos below begin with four views of the front of the building. These are followed by six photos of the Perry Tower courtyard complete with a fountain. The eleventh photo is a courtyard on the opposite end of the building from the Perry Tower. You can see a fountain, formally called the Cast Iron Fountain, in the center of the photo. The fountain was donated by Adonis Watson Carpenter in honor of her late husband. Mrs. Carpenter's father Randle Churchill Carpenter was head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1918 to 1938. As noted above, the current Carpenter Hall on campus is named for him. Mrs. Carpenter grew up in a faculty home which was located on the present site of the Chapel. The last two photos are of an angel statue which stands on the grounds of the Chapel facing the front of the building.
Next, we have photos of two statues on campus. The first four photos below are the World War I Memorial which stands behind Lee Hall on Lee Boulevard. The Doughboy is marble and the base is granite. The memorial was a gift of the class of 1932. Little did they know that a second world war would be upon them within a decade. Fifty-five State students died in the war. The base is inscribed with the names of the Class of 1932. The last photo is a statue of Sonny Montgomery, an alumnus (Class of 1943) who would serve in the Mississippi State senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. There are many buildings and monuments which carry Montgomery’s name. The main VA hospital in Mississippi, located in Jackson, is named the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center. A lock on the Tombigbee Waterway carries his name as does an airport in Forest, Mississippi. In addition to the statue pictured below, there is also a bust of him inside the university’s main library. There is also the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Advisement and Career Services Center at State's campus in Meridian.
The next set of photos are of Giles Hall. The building has had an interesting life. It opened in 1929 and was then a livestock judging pavilion. Due to this fact, it is sometimes referred to as “The Barn”. The building would serve in its original role until 1976 when after a multi-year renovation and addition it re-opened to house the School of Architecture. A further addition came in 1982. It is an interesting mix of old and new as a result. Named for the 13th President of State, Dr. William L. Giles. It was during his ten-year tenure from 1966 to 1976 that the School of Architecture came into being.
The photos below begin with the front of the building which faces College View Drive. The second photo shows the addition, which stretches behind and to the side of the original building. The third photo is an interior shot taken just inside the main entrance. You can see where this was the arena floor of the judging pavilion. The Bob and Kathy Luke Library extends from this older portion of the building (photo #4) and the new addition (the fifth photo). An interesting way to mix the two buildings to be sure. The library is named for alumnus (Class of 1980) Robert “Bob” Luke and his wife. Luke first came to State in 1972 and reportedly enjoyed his time there a great deal. So much so, in fact, that his poor grades forced him to leave. He returned a few years later with his wife Kathy and their child in tow. He graduated from the School of Architecture and moved on to practice in South Carolina. Life brought him back to Mississippi and he and his firm later designed the north end zone area of the Davis Wade Stadium, as well as the Leo Seal football practice facility, and several dorms on campus.
A computer lab in the building, the Digital Research and Imaging Laboratory, or DRIL, is named for former State faculty member Charles M. Calvo (sixth photo). Although much of the work of architects are on computers these days, drafting tables have not yet totally disappeared from the scene. The row of tables in the seventh photo indicate that pencil and paper are still in use. I was surprised and pleased to see a grill just outside the back entrance to the building (photo #8)! There is a sitting area there and circular columns bring unity between the rear of the addition (photo #9) and the original portion of the structure (photo 10). The set ends with a view of the rear portion of the addition.
The photos below are of Allen Hall, a white monolith building which opened in 1972. It is unabashedly Modernist in every respect. It was designed by Meridian, MS, based architect Bill Archer and Associates, with Starkville-based firm Wakeman and Martin as associate architects. Interiors were designed by the Jackson, MS, based firm Morris Thomas and Associates. I didn’t take photos of the inside in part because I was amazed at how much it appeared stuck in time – it could have been the 1970’s in there. Although, changes were afoot during my visit. It appeared they were re-doing restrooms in part of the building and other changes could have been in the works. The cost of construction of Allen came in at $3,034,500, which would be about $22,201,000+ today. The building is named for H.E. “Slim” Allen of Jackson, MS. I did some searching on the internet, but unfortunately could not find out anything about Mr. Allen. If you have a reference or know about him, please leave a comment. The building houses administrative offices and the College of Education.
The set below begins with two views of the front entrance to the building. In addition to the tower portion you can see here, there is a low-rise section in the rear behind. The dedication plaque seen in the third photo is located outside in the area by the front door. The last photo is the Eternal Flame, a monument installed in 1997; the flame was lit in a ceremony on September 27, 1997, to honor the alumni and friends of the university who have donated to State.
The building opened with just two of the three current names and was known as the Lloyd-Ricks Building. It was designed by Mississippi-based architect Claude H. Lindsley. He designed some iconic buildings in Mississippi, including collegiate buildings the University of Mississippi, Belhaven University, and the Mississippi University for Women. Groundbreaking occurred in 1929 and the building opened in 1931 and cost about $210,000 (nearly $3.6 million in today’s dollars) to build. The contractor for the building was the Isaac Calvin Garber company, known for the most part as “IC Garber” which can still be seen on dozens of cornerstones and plaques in many of the most notable early- to mid-20th Century buildings in the state. IC Garber constructed many buildings on the campuses of State, Ole Miss, Belhaven, Mississippi College, and the University of Southern Mississippi. An addition was completed in 1932 at a cost of $162,000 (about $3.3 million in today’s value). Ricks was dean of the School (now College) of Agriculture when he stepped in to take over the extension program in 1935. He would remain in both roles until 1937 when a new director was hired. Edward Lloyd was the first Director of Cooperative Extension. He came on board in a temporary position on July 1, 1914. He stayed in the position until 1919. The Watson portion of the name is honor of Vance Watson. Watson came to State as an Assistant Professor in 1966 and would eventually rise to be Vice President for Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine. In 2004, he served as Interim President. The building currently houses Agriculture Economics, Human Sciences including the Human Development and Family Studies program, and he Southern Rural Development Center.
Next, we have the Davis Wade Stadium, home of the Mississippi State Bulldogs football team. Davis Wade Stadium has more than 100 years of history behind it. Opened in 1914, it is the second oldest stadium in the FBS Division of college football (Georgia Tech has the oldest stadium). It opened with the name “New Athletic Field” and was the replacement for Hardy Field where the team had previously played. In 1920, the students voted to rename the stadium after Mississippi native and two-time Olympian Donald Scott (he played football at State and competed in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics). It would keep the name until 2001, when it was renamed in honor of Floyd Davis Wade, Sr., who gave a very large donation to the athletics program. It retains the Scott Field name for the playing surface. Officially, the stadium has a seating capacity of 61,337, but a single game attendance record of 61,748 was set in 2015.
The first football game played by a Mississippi State squad occurred in 1895. At the time, the State athletics teams were known as the Aggies. They played only two games that season and lost both. Both were away games. In 1901, a true rivalry was formed when they played the University of Mississippi for the very first time at the Starkville Fairground. State won the game 17 to 0. The teams have played a total of 111 times to date, and State is in the deficit in the win column having only won the match up 45 times. State was the first SEC team to hire an African American as head coach; Sylvester Croom was named head coach in 2003 and served in that capacity from 2004 to 2008.
My undergraduate and master’s alma mater Tennessee has, as an SEC school, played Mississippi State many times in all sports. In terms of football, Tennessee leads the series at 29 wins, 16 losses, and one tie. Their last match-up occurred at Davis Wade Stadium on October 12, 2019, with Tennessee coming away with a victory 20 to 10. My alma mater Texas Tech has played Mississippi State in football on four occasions, the last being a game here in Memphis at the Liberty Bowl where we won 34 to 7 on December 28, 2021. But they hold the edge in the series 4 wins to 3 losses (they have also tied). Two of those losses and the tie were on the field here at Davis Wade. Tech and State are scheduled to play a regular season game in Lubbock in 2029.
The first three photos below are of the Humphrey Coliseum, colloquially known as “The Hump”. The coliseum is named for George Duke Humphrey, the 9th President of Mississippi State. Humphrey came to the position on June 5, 1934. He was elected to the position by one vote. His competition was A.B. Butts, a Mississippi State faculty member who would leave the next year to take the presidency of the University of Mississippi. Humphrey was a Mississippi native and alumnus of Blue Mountain College. He went on to get a master's degree at the University of Chicago and did doctoral studies at Ohio State University (I do not believe he finished his doctorate however).
The Hump is the largest on-campus basketball arena in Mississippi. The arena opened in 1975 and the first game pitted State against Indiana State on December 1, 1975. Larry Bird had enrolled in ISU that fall but had to sit out the season as a redshirt. State won that game 85 to 82 and one can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Bird had played. At the close of the 2021-2022 season, state had accrued an impressive record of 475 wins and 185 losses in the arena. The Lady Bulldogs opened their era in the Hump in December 1975 as well, with a loss to Jackson State University on the 12th.
My undergrad/master's alma mater has quite the record against the Mississippi State basketball team, having won 88 of their 132 games. The two institution’s women’s basketball teams have only played each other 45 times, but Tennessee again holds quite the edge with 38 wins and 7 losses. My doctoral alma mater has only played the men’s team three times and won all of them. However, none of these were played at Mississippi State or Texas Tech. The Lady Raiders have only played the Lady Bulldogs once, back in 2002 in Lubbock and Tech won the game.
The last photo is the Mize Pavillion at Humphrey Coliseum. Mize is a basketball training facility which opened in 2011. Construction costs came in at $13 million (about $17.1 million today). The Henry Mize Foundation gave $4 million for the construction of the facility.
Below is Dudy Noble Field / Polk-DeMent Stadium, home of the State baseball team. It seems like a great stadium, although I have unfortunately been unable to catch a game there to know for certain. The stadium is the largest on-campus baseball facility in the U.S. The field is named in honor of former Bulldogs Coach and Athletics Director Clarke R. “Dudy” Noble. The Polk name comes in honor of another former coach, Ron Polk. The DeMent is honor of long-time State supporter Gordon DeMent.
In addition to having recently won the national championship, the Bulldogs have dominated by alma mater Tennessee on the baseball diamond with 58 wins in 88 games. They have played my other alma mater, Texas Tech, only 10 times but again hold the edge with 6 wins. Tech did, however, win their last match-up this past March at a neutral site in Biloxi, Mississippi.
I will sound like an old man here, but back in my days as an undergraduate, many major universities had their soccer teams play on intramural fields. Dedicated fields for teams were around and slowly becoming a thing, but actual stadiums with press boxes and such were not as ubiquitous as they are today. The soccer stadium at State has an older press box (seen in the first photo) and a newer structure for the locker rooms and such (second photo). Currently, it has no name unlike the other stadiums and athletic venues on campus.
I did a post on branding and have mentioned in multiple posts that colleges and universities are obsessed with brand identity these days. State is no exception, and the photos below show some of the branding on campus. From soap dispensers, to sign posts, and floor mats, the university's colors and logo were everywhere. As was the case with their in-state rivals at Ole Miss, the folks at Mississippi State have painted their water tower with their logo. A crew was starting the prep work to repaint the tower during my visit.
I saw a couple of these signs on campus sidewalks and their advice is quite sage.
I have read three books about Mississippi State and recommend each of them as full of information and good reads. The most recent of the three is Maroon and White: Mississippi State University, 1878-2003, by Michael B. Ballard (University Press of Mississippi, 2008). A quick but enjoyable read which focuses agricultural research and extension is A&M to MSU: The People and Events of the Agriculture Division at Mississippi State University by edited by Heather R. Denison (Mississippi State University, 2003). Finally, an in-depth book on the early years of the university and a good read is People’s College: A History of Mississippi State by John K. Bettersworth (University of Alabama Press, 1953). Another good read is the book “Buildings of Mississippi” by Jennifer V. O. Baughn, Michael W. Fazio, and Mary Warren Miller (University of Virginia Press, 2021). It goes well beyond collegiate architecture, but you can find good information about Mississippi State, and other Mississippi colleges and universities throughout the book.
As I noted at the beginning of this post, I have been to many colleges and universities across the state of Mississippi. I have found, without exception, the people on the various campuses to be friendly. But none are as welcoming as the people at Mississippi State. The students are extremely nice, and I have always enjoyed being on campus. There is a strong tradition in the state for young people to use “Yes Sir/Yes Ma’am” type politeness for people over thirty, but the level of respectability, politeness, and genuine kindness is bountiful on the campus in Starkville. As a parent, I can’t help but think about my sons’ future college careers. I have been on numerous campuses since their births, and at times I have a strong feeling about a place’s potential for one or the other. Sometimes the feeling is “I would never want my sons to come here!” Given the kindness inherent in the place, I could see either of my boys – but particularly my younger son – finding a place at State. It's impossible to guess the future and since they are both young at the moment there is much time for things to evolve and change. But Mississippi State is one of a handful of institutions I think would be a good place for my youngest.
Today's post is a school located in the Golden Triad area of Mississippi, the Mississippi University for women. It has the distinction of being the first and oldest public university for women in the U.S. When it opened, it was named the Mississippi Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls, or II&C. The name graces Orr Hall to this day. The university traces its heritage back to the determined actions of a few individuals. The first of these was Sallie Reneau, a native of Tennessee who moved to Mississippi as a child. Reneau would create the first formal proposal for the university when she completed school at the Holly Springs Female Institute at the age of 18 in 1853. The idea was received well, but enthusiasm to create the institution was not followed by a will to provide funding to actually build or staff it. Reneau persisted, but she would die during a Yellow Fever outbreak in 1878. Additional lobbying led by Olivia Valentine Hastings and Annie Coleman Peyton finally resulted in action being taken. State Senator John M. Martin drafted Senate Bill 311 based largely on Reneau’s ideas and the institution was formally established in 1884. The school would be located in the city of Columbus which had actively pursued the school. The city had acquired the grounds and facilities of the Columbus Female Institute, a school for girls, and donated these assets to the new college along with $50,000 in bond funds (about $1.5 million in today’s money) to be selected as the new site. Classes were held starting in October 1885 with 341 women attending the newly established school.
The institution would change its name in 1920 when the new moniker Mississippi College for Women was adopted. The name was meant to reflect the liberal arts tradition of the school. Sometime thereafter, the institution picked up a nickname, The W (pronounced The Dub). It would keep that name until 1974 when, as additional undergraduate and new graduate programs were being implemented, the name was changed to current Mississippi University for Women. It remained a university for women only until 1982, when the Supreme Court decision in Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan determined that men had to be admitted as well. Today, it is still referred to as The W, but about 20% of the 2,700+ students are men. The campus covers about 88 acres, and the university currently offers thirty-seven majors.
The W experienced a most terrible event on November 10, 2002, a date which marks the second largest tornado outbreak in U.S. history. Over the course of two days, 76 tornadoes occurred in 17 states. One of the tornadoes hit Union University. Another would hit Columbus and the MUW. A large F3 tornado hit Main Street at 7:20pm that night. A tornado is a terrifying thing and the thought of one occurring after nightfall seems worse. The tornado ripped through the MUW campus, bringing damage across the university but particularly on the southern half of campus. Damage around town included a church which was destroyed and dozens of homes and businesses. Nearly half (26 of 60) buildings on campus were damaged, some heavily. The Emma Pohl gymnasium was one of the casualties. The building was levelled. The damage was so bad that the university ceased all athletics. No MUW teams would compete again until 2017. The Fine Arts Building (now Summer Hall) had its roof and top floor ripped off. Thankfully, the 10th was a Sunday, so most buildings save for the dorms were vacant. The gym had closed at 7pm shortly before the torrent began. The entire campus was without electricity and classes would be cancelled for a week. As you will see, the campus still carries the scars of that event 22 years later.
We begin, simply enough, with two renditions of the ever-present lamppost sign. The first utilizes the athletics logo which incorporates an owl, the athletics mascot, with the "W". The second is far more common on campus and around Columbus (indeed, as you enter town from most directions these welcome banners are on every light).
The first five photos below are the front of Whitfield Hall, which stands on the northwest corner of campus. Named for the university’s sixth president, Henry L. Whitfield, the building was designed by architect P.J. Krause. The three-story Georgian Revival building was completed in May 1928 at an expense of $212,000 (nearly $3.6 million in today’s inflation-adjusted value). The building sits on land donated to the university by the people of Columbus. Two homes were on the site previously; they were relocated to allow for its construction (one of which is Puckett House detailed below). In addition to being president of MUW, Henry Lewis Whitfield was governor of Mississippi from 1924 until his death in 1927. His tenure as president of the university extended for 13 years from 1907 to 1920. A photo of him on campus during his final year can be seen here. The building was significantly damaged by fire in 1957. In addition to being repaired after this event, the building has undergone two renovations since. Air conditioning was not added to the building until 1969!
The last two photos are of benches on the grounds around Whitfield which were a gift of the class of 1928.
Puckett House was one of the three homes to be moved to allow for the construction of Whitfield Hall. Built in 1902, the building was home to Willis Newbell Puckett and his family. Puckett owned a local brickyard which was, of course, the source for the home’s brick cladding. Over the years it served in various roles – a classroom building, a dorm, and even faculty offices. It was left vacant for a time but was subsequently remodeled to become a guest house in 2022. This is the north side of the house; the front faces the street, but I didn't go round to get a photo of it as it was late in the day, and I was about to leave campus.
Next, we have a beautiful Queen Anne style building currently known as Hastings-Simmons Hall. It opened in 1900 as Hastings Hall (it was also referred to as Columbus Hall Annex) and was designed by Chattanooga, TN based architect R.H. Hunt (who also designed buildings at Blue Mountain College and Mississippi State University). When it opened it had dining facilities and rooms for 63 residents. By the 1960’s it had been converted into office space for academic support units. It would continue to hold offices of various sorts including a credit union office in the 1980’s. A significant renovation was completed in 1992 transforming it into a residence hall once more, this time with apartment-style suites. It remains a dorm today. The first photo is the front of the building. The name is for two women. The fist is honor of Olivia Hastings who was an early advocate for the creation of the university. The second part of the name is honor of alumnae Miriam Q. Simmons who was a member of the state’s Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and later a state Representative.
The second photo is Columbus Hall, which sits directly adjacent to Hasting-Simmons. Columbus is a beautiful building. The Queen Anne style building opened in 1896 as a women’s residence hall. At the time, it served as housing for 100 students in 46 rooms. A remarkable aspect of the building is that it sat unused for more than thirty years. The building closed in 1970 and would not open again until 2001 when it reopened after renovation into a suite-style residence hall. The low cost of the renovation, only $3.1 million (about $5 million today) is a testament to the original design and construction since a building closed that long to be so inexpensive to bring back to life speaks to the sound construction of the place.
The next set of photos are of Callaway Hall. Callaway is the oldest structure on the MUW campus, having opened in 1860. As such, it actually pre-dates the creation of MUW. built as a classroom and dorm building for the prior Columbus Female Institute. It is also the only remaining building from the Columbus Female Institute days. It closed for a time in the 1930’s due to its age and condition. After a renovation in 1938 (thanks to funds from the Public Works Administration), the building re-opened and was renamed for Mary J.S. Callaway. Callaway served Acting President (i.e., interim president) twice; first for four months in 1890 and again for five months in 1898. She was thus the first woman to hold the office, albeit as an interim. A woman as sitting president would not happen until 1989 when Clyda S. Rent took control as the university’s 12th president!
In addition to its collegiate use, the building was used a hospital for both Union and Confederate troops during the Battle of Shiloh. The clocktower seen in the first photo was an addition which came in 1885. All of the photos are of various parts of the front (north) of the building which faces College Street.
The next photo is Thad and Rose Cochran Hall, which began life in 1908 as the Main Dormitory Annex and Library Annex (as it served in these capacities over time), and subsequently South Callaway Hall in 1940. It too was named in honor of Mary J.S. Callaway. It sat vacant and left deteriorating in the 1970’s but was subsequently renovated in 2005 to house administrative offices. It was subsequently renamed in honor of long serving U.S. Senator Thad Cochran and his wife. It sits south of Callaway Hall.
Below are two photos of the front (north side) of Eudora Welty Hall. Construction of the building began in 1929 and was completed the following year. It opened as the John C. Fant Memorial Library. You can see a photo of the building when it was the Fant Library in 1930 here. Fant was president of MUW from 1920 to 1929. It was designed by architect Claude H. Lindsley. An addition designed by architect Chris Risher was added in 1957. The building was without air conditioning until 1966! It is hard for me to imagine working in the building during the summer months prior to A/C. I keep coming back to that thought as I review buildings at southern colleges and universities. I know that air conditioning didn’t come around until the 20th century and the inclusion of this now staple was limited for many years. Still, thinking of the stifling heat of summer in a large building without air conditioning seems awful. So awful, in fact, to seem almost unimaginable. As I write this in my home office the temperature outside is a relatively cool (for my location and the date) 89°. The air conditioning is blowing full force and it is a steady 72° in here, and yet I was, until I wrote this line, thinking of making it cooler. My how times have changed. I imagine that on any hot summer day in 1935, the folks at MUW would have killed to be in a room cooled to 72°! The building underwent a significant renovation in 1991/1992 and thereafter housed administration and services offices.
The building was named for Welty, who initially attended college at MUW but later transferred to the University of Wisconsin to finish her degree. Welty was, of course, a writer and photographer who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Order of the South.
The two photos below are of Carrier Chapel. The chapel was designed by internationally renowned architect Gyo Obata. Construction was completed by the Nelson Myers company. You can see a photo of the groundbreaking here. The building opened in 1965. It is named after MUW alumnae Lenore Woollard Carrier. If the name sounds familiar, it is because she and her husband Robert M. Carrier were philanthropists who donated extensively to the University of Mississippi. You can read more about him in my earlier post on Ole Miss. In addition to providing funds for the construction of the chapel at MUW, the Carriers endowed a scholarship at Ole Miss and two buildings there carry their name. Carrier Hall there is a result of their giving as is the Chancellor’s home - Carrier House. The house was their family home in Oxford (among others including a mansion here in Memphis). Mrs. Carrier donated the house to Ole Miss upon her death in 1963. It was subsequently renovated and has been the chancellor’s residence since 1969. The Carrier Chapel is a Modernist structure that is, in my opinion, surprisingly short on windows. It is nestled in the trees on its site, and I nearly didn’t recognize it at first as a result.
The photos below are of Poindexter Hall which opened in 1905. The building was designed by architect R.H. Hunt. When it opened it was known as Music Hall, although many referred to it as the Temple of Music. Noted German soprano Johanna Gadski was part of the opening gala. It would not be the first time a notable figure graced the building. Shortly after it opened, world acclaimed Polish pianist Ignace Paderewski was invited to give a performance by Weenona Poindexter (for the whom the building would later be named) which resulted in a profit of about $1,000 (just over $33,000 today). Paderewski would go on to be the third Prime Minister of Poland. He was not the only head of state to visit the building. Indeed, you can see a great photo of President William H. Taft along with college president Henry Whitfield on the steps of Poindexter in 1909 here (you can see photos of President Taft arriving on campus here and a view of him speaking here). Later, Vice President Dick Cheney would visit campus and stand in the same spot on October 28, 2003 while campaigning for Haley Barbour.
Poindexter would keep the Music Hall moniker until 1947 when it was renamed in honor of Weenona Poindexter who chaired the chaired the department of music from 1895 to 1934. She is rightfully credited with creating the music program and getting the structure built. By all accounts she was a kind but highly determined woman whose deep care for the institution would stay with her until she passed.
The photos below begin with four views of the front (northside) of the building. The fifth is the view from the font landing giving you the view that President Taft and Vice President Cheney had when giving their respective speeches. The sixth is the building plaque, which is located to the right of the front door. The seventh photo is the east side of the building. The last two photos of are a fountain and the Pioneers Plaza which is adjacent to the building on the west side.
The building below is McDevitt Hall. McDevitt began its life as a cafeteria after opening in 1927 for upper division students and was called the Junior/Senior Dining Hall. It was not used in this capacity for long, however, as the cafeteria closed around 1932. The single-story Georgian Revival building subsequently became the student health center (MUW called it the Student Infirmary) in 1934. It was also designed by architect P.J. Krause. Sometime thereafter, it was used for office space. In 1977, the building was renovated to house the university Data Center. Today, it is the home to the W’s Technology Center (I believe the name change from Data Center to Technology Center took place in 2013). It was renamed in honor of Dr. Ellen McDevitt in 1988. McDevitt was an alumnus (class of 1930) who would go on to medical school at the University of Utah (class of 1949). She had a remarkable career in medicine thereafter.
Next, we have four photos of a MUW sign that is called the Pylon. The Pylon was a gift of the class of 1955. The white columns and roof are not original to the structure. I am not certain why or when they were added. Also added is the “MUW” on the outward facing front of the Pylon and the university’s current tagline “A Tradition of Excellence for Women and Men”. You can see photos of the Pylon as it originally looked in a photo from 1975 here as well as in an undated photo that appears to be from the 1970’s or perhaps the very early 1980’s here. A great photo of Emma Ody Pohl walking beside the Pylon in 1955 can be seen here. You will note that hedge seen in these earlier photos are now gone.
I was pleased to see construction underway on campus. This is the Culinary Arts Building, which is located just to the southeast of Poindexter Hall. The new building was designed by JBHM Architecture, a Mississippi-based firm with offices in Jackson, Oxford, and Tupelo. They have designed numerous structures, most of which have been in the southeast. It will contain about 40,000 square feet of new space and will include commercial-grade kitchens, a stadium-seating style auditorium, and an event space. A small library and offices will also be located in the building on the second floor. The culinary programs are currently located in Shattuck Hall. The building will be on the east side of Bryan Green.
There are two gates on the MUW campus. I was unable to get a photo of the main gate on the north side of campus, but below are two photos of the 4th avenue gate. The gate was a gift of the class of 1929.
The photos below are of Martin Hall which sits directly across 4th Avenue from Parkinson Hall (see below). Martin is named for Mississippi State Senator John McCaleb Martin, who was an outspoken advocate for the establishment of the university and who drafted Senate Bill 311 authorizing its creation. Martin would go on to serve on the university’s Board of Trustees for fifteen years. The building was another designed by architect Claude H. Lindsley. The first two photos are of the front (north side) of the building. The third is a plaque noting a renovation of the structure in 2005. The fourth photo is the west side of the building, and the fifth and sixth are the east side. The final photo is the original dedication plaque.
Below are four photos of Parkinson Hall, named for MUW president Burney L. Parkinson. The original portion of the building was completed in 1950. A significant renovation/addition was completed in 2003. The building has a variety of classrooms and wet labs and is currently home to the Department of Sciences and Mathematics. Parkinson was a graduate of Peabody College (Vanderbilt University) who had been an administrator and college president prior to coming to MUW. He served as president of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina for one year. He found the job too involved and conflicted for the salary and left at the end of the 1927-1928 academic year. He then went to Alabama for four years for a position in the state government. He arrived in Columbus as the 9th president in 1932.
There had been some complaining of Parkinson in the waning years of his presidency centering on the notion that the university had languished under his leadership. Although this did not raise to any real attempt to remove him, he was encouraged to retire. He would hear nothing of it, however, and in the end the board established a requirement for presidential retirement, and he left his position in 1952. You can see him in his regalia at what is probably his last spring commencement here. His time remains the second longest tenure of any president behind Charles Hogarth who bested his 20 years by five additional years. After leaving the university, he went to Virginia to serve as a professor of education and psychology at Mary Washington University (then Mary Washington College) for four years. He retired from Mary Washington in 1956. He passed away in 1972. You can see a photo of him during his time at Mary Washington here.
The first two photos are the original front façade of Parkinson which faces south. The third photo is the east façade, which is part of the 2003 addition. The last is a photo the dedication plaque for the 2003 addition/renovation.
Reneau Hall, seen in the two photos below, is another creation by Claude H. Lindsley. Opened in 1929, Reneau was originally a residence hall capable of housing up to 130 students. The building is named in honor of Sallie Eola Reneau (1837-1878). A native of Tennessee, Reneau moved with her family to Mississippi in her youth. She graduated from the Holly Springs Female Institute and subsequently began a campaign to create a college for women. She developed a proposal which was presented to members of the state government. Her work facilitated the development of the bill by State Senator John Martin which would create MUW. Interestingly, in 2009 the university concluded a 22-month study to create a new and more inclusive name for the university. Then president Claudia A. Limbert submitted the name “Reneau University” to the Board of Trustees for State Institutions of Higher Learning (Mississippi’s agency for higher education). Apparently, the Board approved the change, but the state legislature did not. A photo of Sallie Reneau can be seen here.
Regardless, Reneau remained a dorm until 1971 when nursing moved into the structure. I am uncertain when they moved out, but by the mid-1980’s the building was empty and deteriorating. A $2.7 million renovation began in 1998 and the building reopened in 1999. Today, it houses the College of Business and Professional Studies. The Department of Legal Studies has a complete mock courtroom in the building.
The next set of photos begin with seven shots of Summer Hall. Summer opened in 1960 as the Fine Arts Building. The building was designed in-house, by Dr. Ralph Hudson who has head of the art department at the time. As noted above, Summer was significantly impacted by the tornado of November 2002. The entire top floor and roof were ripped off the structure. In addition to repairs, the building also received a facelift and modernization. The second photo is a plaque denoting the repairs. The construction firm was Columbus, MS-based West Brothers Construction. One of the two brothers shares my name Steve West! There is a small gallery on the first floor just inside the main entrance. Exhibits in this space can be seen in photos three through seven.
The last photo is the Centennial Kiosk from 1984 which sits just outside the Fant Memorial Library on the corner of 5th Avenue and 13th Street. I took a couple of photos of the library, but something was on the lens of my camera and blurred them to the point that not even software could correct them. It’s a shame the photos did not turn as I had intended to use them as an opportunity to mention an alumnae of The W who shares two things in common with me – the same last name and an association with Texas Tech. Elizabeth H. West was born in Pontotoc, MS in 1873. After completing her studies at The W, she would later move to Texas where she would go on to earn two degrees from the University of Texas. She would be the head librarian of the San Antonio Public Library but is most remembered for two later positions. In 1918, West would be named Director of the Texas State Library. She was the first woman in Texas history to lead a state agency (and the second woman to do so of any state in the nation). Later, she would leave to take a position at the newly created Texas Tech University, where she created and led the library until her retirement. I have always thought that the library at Tech and the state library in Austin should be named after her. In addition, her maternal grandfather was Moses Waddel, who was the president of the University of Georgia and the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi.
Next, we have photos of the Marie Charlotte Stark Recreation Building and the (new) Emma Ody Pohl Physical Education Building, two buildings attached by an enclosed overhead walkway across 11th street. The buildings replace an earlier structure with the Pohl name which was destroyed by the tornado of 2002. The two buildings were completed in 2007 at a total expense of $13.7 million, which is about $19 million in current 2022 value. The buildings were designed by Jackson, MS based architectural firm Singleton Architects. Singleton also designed the Sanderson Center for Athletics at Mississippi State University in nearby Starkville as well as a physical education center at Delta State University. Combined, Pohl and Stark come in at 89,246 square feet. Owing to the likelihood of tornadoes (obviously, since the prior building it replaced by razed by one), the building has a tornado safe room built in. Emma Ody Pohl was head of the department of physical education from 1908 to 1955. She was a fixture on campus and a vocal advocate of the university. Stark was an alumnae of the university (class of 1933) and Pohl's niece. She was an archivist with the International Monetary Fund and a major donor to the university.
The first photo is the main entrance to Stark on the north side of the building. The second photo is the enclosed walkway over 11th street. The fourth photo is the front (south side) of Pohl where the dedicatory plaque seen in the last photo is located.
The first photo below is Painter Hall (I believe the entire formal name is Lawrence Painter Academic Hall). The building opened in 1922 at a cost of $88,050 (about $1.44 million today). When it opened, the two-story Georgian Revival Building was known simply as Academic Hall. It would keep this moniker until 1954 when it was named for Lawrence G. Painter who was chair of the Department of English from 1913 to 1948. It originally had a clay tile roof, but more economical asphalt shingles took their place in 1975 and remain to this day. A photo of the building from 1922 can be seen here.
The second photo is Shattuck Hall. Shattuck opened with a very different look than we see today. Shattuck was designed by R.H. Hunt and cost $25,000 (about $770,000 in today’s value) to build. When it was completed in 1911, the building, was a four-story structure that housed a dorm and a cafeteria. A fire in 1953 left it with extensive damage. It was subsequently rebuilt as the two-story Georgian Revival you see here. Re-opened in 1959, the building continued as a cafeteria (on the first floor) and a dorm (the second floor). It was home to the nursing program from 1975 to 1983 and today houses the culinary arts program. A great photo of the former dining facility on the first floor of Shattuck from around 1960 can be seen here.
All of the photos in this group are of the Education and Human Sciences building. The building opened as the Home Economics Center in 1973. This building speaks to me, as it looks like many buildings that were brand new when I was a kid and into my early teens. Everything about it is so spot on for the time, from the look of the building to the use of oversized handrails on the entrance steps. The first two photos show the north façade. I love the faux “porches”! The third photo is the west side entrance where the two dedication plaques seen in the last photos are located. A wonderful photo of the building from 1975 can be seen here.
Below are two views of the front of the Harvey Cromwell Communication Center. The building is a rather generic looking Modernist piece that would fit right in on my campus at the University of Memphis (we have more than our fair share of nondescript Modernist boxes). It is named for the former Dean of Arts and Sciences and the first Dean of the Graduate School. It has a large 356-seat theater inside. A photo distributed by the university as part of a press release when the building opened in June 1977, can be see here and you can see a photo of Dr. Cromwell in front of the building (also in 1977) here. The MUW logo doormat was at the entrance to the building.
Next, we have Turner Hall. Turner opened in 1929 and is yet another structure on campus designed by architect Claude H. Lindsley. The building opened with the name Demonstration School. It served as a K-6 lab school (as they are known today) and a training facility for teacher prep students at the university. It would serve in this capacity until the sometime in the 2010’s (I believe it closed in either 2016 or 2017, but I may be mistaken). It was renamed Turner Hall in 2016 in honor of long-time principal Alma Turner. It sat vacant for time but was renovated and reopened in 2020. Today, it houses the Department of Speech Language Pathology and its Speech and Hearing Center.
The photos below begin with two views of the south side of the building. The next two are of the east side of the building. The historic marker stands just in front of the old main entrance.
The next set are of some Modernist residence halls on campus. The first photo is Kincannon Hall, a five-story residence hall on the southside of campus. It is part of a complex of four similar dorms. Completed in 1972, the building is named for the university’s fifth president, Dr. Andrew A. Kincannon. Kincannon held the longest tenure of any president to that point (nine years), but Henry Whitfield who followed him would easily surpass this term by serving in the role for thirteen years. The second photo is of Kincannon (on the left) and Jones Hall. Jones is the older of the two, having opened in 1964. It too is a five-story Modernist structure. Both are suite-style dorms. Jones is named in honor of Richard W. Jones, first president of the W.
The last photo is a residence facility of a different flavor. There are four groups of buildings each with the name University Apartment Building and numbered sequentially. They are for faculty and staff. They cumulatively have 48 units, and they are available at reduced rent (compared to market value) for the first three years of occupancy. They vary in size and come in both two- and three-bedroom variants.
Decommissioned. A singular word set on the current MUW campus map to denote several buildings that were damaged in the 2002 tornado and for which funds to repair or demolish them is not available. It's a sad word that I had previously only associated with military ships. In both contexts, it means sitting idle and in decay until such time funds are available to scrap them. It's not a pleasant connotation in either case. For an academician such as me, the following photos are not pleasant to see. I've covered two defunct colleges, but this is the first post I have made where buildings have been left to rot on the campus of a currently operating university.
The first decommissioned building I will cover is the Pohl Recreation Building (or Pohl Gymnasium) which opened in 1927. It would be the first of three buildings to carry the name. The current Pohl is the newest, of course; the second was destroyed by the tornado that hit campus in 2002. The building contained a basketball court and natatorium and opened with the name being simply the "Physical Education Building". It was later named in honor of Emma Ody Pohl, who chaired the Department of Physical Education Department for 48 years from 1907 to 1955. Although a new gym would be added in 1976, the building was actively used until 1982. It has been vacant ever since and it shows in the state of the structure. The Georgian Revival building was designed by Mississippi-based architect P.J. Krouse. It was the second gym on campus. It sits behind (to the south) of the Carrier Chapel and Eudora Welty Hall.
I know that razing a structure is an expensive activity. I worked for years on the health sciences campus of Virginia Commonwealth University where numerous structures were torn down to make way for new ones and the cost of demolition in each case was always notably high. I imagine that at some point when funds are available, the old gym will be levelled and something new will take its spot on campus. The photos below begin with a view of the front of the building (north side), and two of the rear. The last photo is a view of the entry vestibule taken through the windows of the front door.
The next building is Orr Hall, and I did not realize it was vacant when I approached it from the east (the view seen in the first two photos below). By the time I walked around to the front (seen in the last two photos) however, the look of decay was evident. I took a look at the campus map on my phone to see that it too is decommissioned. Orr is a beautiful building the front of which faces College Street to the north. Orr opened in 1885 and as such the Victorian-styled building is the second oldest structure on campus today. The city of Columbus donated it to the school. It housed administrative offices and the university chapel from the time it opened until 1928. It later housed a museum. Various renovations and modifications happened over the course of its lifetime. It was fairly heavily damaged in the 2002 tornado. I believe the building is named for Pauline Orr, the first professor of English and Speech at the university.
The next six photos are two other decommissioned buildings on campus and both are former residence halls.
The first three photos are of Peyton Hall which opened in 1922. It cost $128,000 (just over $2 million today) to build. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and was designated a Mississippi Landmark structure in 1986. It was designed by St. Louis-based architect Theodore C. Link. Link also designed structures at Mississippi State University as well. The building was damaged a great deal by the 2002 tornado and has been vacant since I believe.
The next vacant building, seen the last three photos, is another building carrying the Fant name. Fant Hall, or more fully, Mabel Fant Hall is named for the wife of MUW’s seventh President John C. Fant. If it looks a good deal like Peyton Hall it is no coincidence. It was designed by architect P.J. Krause and was meant to be identical to the older structure. It opened in 1927, and was named Mrs. Fant (Mabel Beckett Fant) who died during the building’s construction. It ceased being a dorm and vacant by the mid-1980’s, but was subsequently renovated to house the Mississippi School of Math and Science. It was heavily damaged by the 2002 tornado and has remained vacant since.
I suppose there could be hope for these structures, although it is hard to imagine.
The last photo may not be recognized by the uninitiated. This is a tornado warning siren. There are different kinds with different shapes, but they all blare a siren (if you are unfamiliar, imagine an air raid siren from the movies) to give those in the immediate area the warning that a tornado is imminent or has been sighted and it is time to take shelter. There are many of these near my house and they have blasted their warning several times. Once the tornado was close enough that we could hear what sounded like a semi-truck running its engine full blast outside. I am quite used to hearing them as I have lived in other locales, most notably Lubbock, TX, where tornadoes occur. An odd thing to take a picture of in some cases, it seemed entirely appropriate given the fact that the campus was hit by one.
When I started this blog, the pandemic was in full swing and travelling was not really happening. I filled in space initially by posting photographs I had taken in the past and visiting nearby colleges. Better than a year later, I am still basically in that mode. Plus, I have found that the quality of the photos I had taken in the past are not all that great. Point and shoot cameras were not known for high quality image production, and scanning them doesn't help. Add that to a busy life and I have not covered nearly as many schools as I had thought I might. None the less, I've covered about twenty-eight schools and thirty campuses. These cover schools in ten U.S. states, and also three abroad in Australia and the U.K. I hope to pick up the pace and add more as spring comes into full swing. The map below highlights the states covered (in red) to date.
University Grounds is a blog about college and university campuses, their buildings and grounds, and the people who live and work on them.
University of Melbourne
Glasgow College of Art
University of Glasgow
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Arkansas State University Mid-South
California State University, Fresno
Illiff School of Theology
University of Denver
Blue Mountain College
Mississippi Industrial College
Mississippi State University
Mississippi University for Women
Northwest Mississippi CC
University of Mississippi
Barnes Jewish College Goldfarb SON
Baptist Health Sciences University
Jackson State Community College
Memphis College of Art
Southern College of Optometry
Southwest Tennessee CC Union Ave
Southwest Tennessee CC Macon Cove
University of Memphis
University of Memphis Park Ave
University of Memphis, Lambuth
University of Tennessee HSC
Texas Tech University
University of Utah