And then there were four . . .

Catherine Hall, Mississippi Industrial College (photo by joseph a)

We’ve been worried about the steep decline of the landmark Mississippi Industrial College property, especially the oldest building, Cathrine Hall (1905), which suffered structural damage in a storm back in 2009, damage that wasn’t addressed and quickly escalated into wholesale collapse of the rear elevation in 2010. You can read a few of our stories going back to the earliest days of Preservation in Mississippi:

Suzassippi picked up on activity at the site on a drive through Holly Springs a few weeks back and noted it in her blog post “Update on Mississippi Industrial College

I went back last week to see if I could get some photographs of the current state of Cathrine Hall–from the public sidewalk–and noticed workmen stacking bricks beside Cathrine Hall.  I cannot find anything on the news about it, but it appears as if they are clearing brick from when the rear wall collapsed following a storm in 2010.  There were a number of pick up trucks parked around the building…

But last week, a real live newspaper finally got hold of the Mississippi Industrial College story and reported that Cathrine Hall is going, going, gone. According to the Northeast Mississippi Journal,

 One of five historic buildings on the former Mississippi Industrial College campus is being torn down.

Catherine Hall’s demolition began last week after the brick dormitory, built in 1905 at a cost of $35,000, was judged beyond reclamation.

. . . .

As the Catherine Hall demolition shows, efforts to preserve the buildings have been disappointing.

“We’re trying to secure some resources,” said Adrienne Phillips, a spokesman for Rust College, “so we can seal up and shore up the rest of the buildings until they can be restored.”

Read more: – Historic Mississippi Industrial College building razed

Notice the difference between the back wall in 2009 after the storm and the back wall in the April 2011 MDAH photos.

Cathrine Hall, rear elevation, 2009

rear of Cathrine Hall, partial collapse, 2009

Cathrine Hall, photo by Jennifer Baughn, MDAH, 4-11-2011. Retrieved from Historic Resources Database, July 15, 2012.

Now picture this iconic image without the building to the left, Cathrine Hall.

Mississippi Industrial College, photo by Jennifer Baughn, MDAH, 4-11-2011, retrieved Historic Resources Database, July 15, 2012.

There are four buildings left on this “front line” that seems to me so much a part of Holly Springs: Washington Hall (1910), Carnegie Auditorium (1923), Hammond Hall (1907), and the gymnasium Davis Hall (1950). Rust College now owns all of them, but what will they do to save and reuse this amazing campus? There seems to be no organized campaign to pull in money and energy from the alumni, preservationists, people who care about Holly Springs, and without that, these buildings will crumble one by one.

Categories: Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Holly Springs, Universities/Colleges

3 replies

  1. “We’re trying to secure some resources,” said Adrienne Phillips, a spokesman for Rust College, “so we can seal up and shore up the rest of the buildings until they can be restored.”

    That’s a pretty transparent smoke screen, E.L. Let’s read between the lines . . .

    “We are trying to get enough money together to finish our work at MIC. In other words, enough to tear down the entire campus so that we have a better chance of selling the property for development.”

    And the long sad dirge is barely audible anymore. Sigh. Maybe we could get Cassandra Wilson to sing at the wake. After all she is from Mississippi. She does know the blues . . .

    Read more: – Historic Mississippi Industrial College building razed


  2. I agree it’s a smokescreen. While I can’t fault Rust for the abandonment of the buildings in the last 2+ decades, I can fault them for their lack of anything resembling stewardship over the time since they bought the property in 2008 (?). I don’t think they have any interest in selling the property for development though, do you? My presumption is that they’d just as soon have the buildings fall down on their own so they can have a big vacant lot for their own college expansion without all that messy history to deal with.


    • I imagine they would sell it if they could, but as we have both noted, for what use? I also cannot imagine that they are going to expand there. Truth be told, they probably wish they had never bought the place, but I’m sure they paid next to nothing for it.

      I still enjoy the pathos of the car in one of Faulkner’s stories breaking down in front of the campus.

      Ah well, back to my Nietzsche . . .


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