As we celebrate our nation’s birthday and reflect on the right to free expression that we enjoy as Americans, the precarious future of the 1938 Mendenhall High School Auditorium is foremost in my mind. Despite the fact that this Mississippi Landmark is in good condition, the Simpson County School District is scheduled to appear before the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees on July 19 to request that the building be demolished to make way for a new school facility. And, by all accounts, they may get their way. While a number of people have bravely come out to say the building should be saved, many residents of Mendenhall will not speak openly on the issue for fear of political repercussions.
Before the decision is made to demolish the Mendenhall High School Auditorium, all options regarding its possible preservation should be explored. Funding to conduct a feasibility study that would answer questions about restoration costs, the future use of the structure and other possible locations for the new cafeteria/auditorium is currently available through the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program. Nothing would be lost in delaying the decision to demolish this charming historic structure, which the MDAH Board of Trustees designated as a Mississippi Landmark, until all the facts and figures regarding restoration and adaptive reuse have been explored.
It is sad to think that a community cannot come together to have a free and open discussion about such an important issue. If you are a proud graduate of Mendenhall High School and want to see your beautiful Art Deco auditorium restored for future generations of Tigers to enjoy, now is the time to let your voice be heard. After July 19, it may be too late.
Letters in support of saving the Mendenhall High School Auditorium should be sent to:
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Board of Trustees
P.O. Box 571
Jackson, MS 39205
Categories: Historic Preservation