In case you missed my correction to last Friday’s News Roundup, I mistakenly stated that Magee Elementary School was threatened with demolition, when in fact the caption in the Magee Courier’s article clearly stated it was Mendenhall Elementary. Because I didn’t think the photo in the Courier of the school really did the building justice–it showed just one side elevation that has clearly had too many holes for various utilities poked in it–I arranged to have some better pictures taken that would show the current condition and also give the building the credit it deserves architecturally.
As I stated in the corrected version of the Roundup, the elementary building at Mendenhall was built in 1938 in the Art Deco style. The architect may have been Emmett J. Hull, husband of noted artist Marie Hull, and architect of many buildings in his long career, including most of the Tougaloo College campus and the Pinola School in Simpson County. Although it clearly has suffered from poor decisions about inserting utilities, and I’m told maintenance issues have arisen with the plaster inside, architecturally speaking, the building is intact, retaining its original decorative features, steel windows, a bright and cheery auditorium, and interior doors and transoms.
I would very much hate to see this building demolished and hope someone will talk the school board out of it. Simpson County has so few interesting buildings besides its beautiful courthouse, it would be a shame for them to short-sightedly tear this one down.
The school isn’t a Mississippi Landmark or on the National Register as far as I can tell, but my understanding of the Antiquities Law is that public entities such as school boards can’t just demolish an older building like this without first checking with Archives and History, so maybe the jury’s still out.