Architectural Twins? Eaton and Walthall Schools, Hattiesburg

Schools are structures that are often duplicated from one set of plans, as seen in some of Malvaney’s early Architectural Twins posts (January 14, 2010 & July 14, 2010). The school board of Hattiesburg was no different when they hired architect Robert E. Lee to design a school for them on Court Street about 1902. The layout was so successful that the identical design was use to build a school less than a mile away in the Third Ward about 1905.

Both school building has identical floor plans when built.  Court Street School Hattiesburg, Forrest County. Sanborn FireInsurance Map, October 1906

Both school buildings had identical floor plans when built. Court Street School Hattiesburg, Forrest County. Sanborn FireInsurance Map, October 1906

Just like people, when schools grow up and older they tend to get bigger. And just like people, some schools age gracefully and others just cannot seem to stay out of trouble. If Walthall (aka Court Street) School is the former, then poor Eaton (aka Third Ward) School is the latter. Below you can see how the two schools have grown, according to the MDAH HRI database.

Court Street School Hattiesburg, Forrest County.  Growth Chart

Walthall/Court Street School Hattiesburg, Forrest County. Growth Chart

Walthall/Court Street School

  • Original Building (Red), c. 1902 Architect: Robert E. Lee
  • Enlargement/remodeling (Blue), 1928 Architect: N.W. Overstreet & R.W. Naef
  • Additions (Yellow), 1941 Architects: Landry & Matthes
  • Rear Addition (Green), 1957 Architects: Associated School Architects
Third Ward School Hattiesburg, Forrest County.  Growth Chart

Eaton/Third Ward School Hattiesburg, Forrest County. Growth Chart

Eaton/Third Ward School

  • Original Building (Red), c. 1905 Architect: Robert E. Lee
  • Classroom, Cafeteria Addition (Yellow), 1948 Architects: Hearon & McCleskey
  • Auditorium Addition (Green), 1957 Architects: Associated School Architects

Walthall/Court Street School seemed to grow up and in its early Twenties, do some traveling, becoming exposed to some culture (hence the 1928 Mission Revival remodeling), grew some additions to accommodate more children. It retired from teaching in 1987 and became a condo several years later (the building was converted into condominium apartments within the past 10 years).

Poor Eaton/Third Ward School grew up also, bless its heart. It stayed around home, got plastered (the building received a sloppy “stucco” coat over its handsome brick at some point), did some growing to accommodate the kids, but a few years ago acted up as folks who need attention sometimes do and lost its head, bad enough the Attorney General had to come to town. It’s pretty bad but there’s always time to turn one’s life around. The City can correct the damage previously done and show folks that they are a place of forward thinking, where things that may seem impossible are not. The City should care about Eaton School like I know the residents of Hattiesburg do, so it’s time to stage an intervention for the building. It’s time to get Eaton School the help it needs so it can enjoy the same successes as its twin.

Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Hattiesburg, Historic Preservation, Renovation Projects, Schools

6 replies

  1. Our current city administration seems to have no interest about this ” side of the tracks” and unless something offers money to them ( such as a million dollars to close most of our rail crossings) they let the situation just rot away. Strangely, they milk every penny they can from the unfortunatle few renovating on this side of town and have an historical council to rule with an iron fist anyone restoring a structure while they themselves allow structures such as Eaton school to rot down. A recent renovation across from my national landmark home resulted in a for sale sign and the contractor stating he would never try to rebuild in this city ever again. Welcome to Hattiesburg !


    • What I understand from Malvaney’s earlier post on the matter is that the city was actively pursuing grants for Eaton Schools restoration. The contractor who was hired to put on the roof did nothing to protect the building during the several month time period the building would be without a roof. The city then requested a permit from MDAH to tear the Mississippi Landmark building down, which was denied. As to why the city hasn’t pursued any other action since this occurred, I don’t know.

      I cannot speak to the Hattiesburg Historic Conservation Commission, but the planned renovation across the street from you might have proposed changes that would have destroyed the historic integrity of the structure. It would not be surprising to me if a contractors “rebuild” ideas might clash with preservation ethos. Without having seen the plans or specifications I wouldn’t want to speak on it any more. In your zeal and passion I think you misspoke as to how your house is listed. Your house is probably a contributing structure in a National Register Historic District. A National Historic Landmark is a historic property with significance at the national level and designated as such by the Secretary of the Interior. Mississippi only has 39 NHL and as nice as I am sure your house it is probably not a National Landmark. The Lists of National Historic Landmarks on the National Park Service website shows no National Landmarks in Hattiesburg.


    • Any time there’s a hint of Attorney General involvement, I have to wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. The whole thing smells fishy–something rotten in Denmark.


      • I agree with Marcellus. Without trying to continue to restore the building it certainly makes the city appear more culpable for the damage. And unless something is done to continue the restoration process everyone will lose out because the building will be gone.


  2. My mother entered the first grade in 1925 there on River Avenue. She lived in walking distance from the school yard. I still have her first grade reader.
    I will say this: The Hattiesburg City Engineer was close to a famous Crawford basketball hero. This Crawford hero’s family was close to the storm chaser roofer. I think their home properties in Crawford join.

    The 1949 virtual new Eaton:


  3. Did our former gang-bustin’ Attorney General find the JMiller-Clarence Witherspoon-McClesky connection?

    Landmark Lost: An Investigation into Contractor Incompetence … › eaton-schoo


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