Jefferson College, Washington

Jefferson College, Washington, Adams County – (1817-19, 1837-39, with later alterations) (National Register). The Mississippi Territory chartered Jefferson College in 1802 but the College did not open until 1811 due to financial problems. Levi Weeks, architect for “Auburn” and other Natchez-area landmarks, designed the East Wing at Jefferson College in 1817, only two years before his death from yellow fever. The almost matching West Wing was actually constructed twenty years later, from 1837 to 1839.

From the beginning, Jefferson College was a preparatory school, not a college, but was still an important part of the Natchez area in the antebellum period, with William Dunbar, William C. C. Claiborne, and Jefferson Davis all associated with the school. Jefferson College closed in 1863, reopened in 1866, and operated until finally closing in 1964 as Jefferson Military College, a victim of Vietnam War opposition. The MDAH owns and operates Jefferson College as a museum; they also “restored” the College from 1977 to 1984 with the questionable demolition of the central, later section located between the East and West Wings. Still, the East and West Wings of Jefferson College are two of the most important Federal style buildings in Mississippi, displaying master builder Levi Weeks’s stylistic trademarks.

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