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 another 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 adapted. 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 outbreaks in U.S. history. Over the course of two days, 76 tornadoes occurred in 17 states. One of the tornadoes during the outbreak hit Union University. 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 for a building to be 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 Carreier 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 in 1950 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 member 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. 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 have apparently outlived their usefulness. 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 costly. 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.
University Grounds is a blog about college and university campuses, their buildings and grounds, and the people who live and work on them.
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