In an inexplicable decision, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees today voted 5-2 to allow the Simpson County School District to demolish the 1938 Mendenhall High School Auditorium. Mayor Steve Womack of Mendenhall set the tone for the meeting by threatening to lobby to revoke the Mississippi Antiquities Act if the school district was not allowed the demolish the historic structure. After very little discussion, the members of the board took their vote, and the fate of this charming Art Deco building was sealed. It is always difficult to lose a historic building, but this decision is particularly hard to understand. Listed as a Mississippi Landmark in 2012, the auditorium has been documented to be in good condition. There is strong local support for the restoration of the building for use by the school and community. Thanks to the Mississippi State Legislature, funding for projects like the restoration of the Mendenhall High School Auditorium is currently available through the Community Heritage Grant Program. The school district’s contention that there was no other location for a new cafeteria and multipurpose building seems unlikely at best and was left unchallenged by the Board of Trustees. A sad loss for the citizens of Mendenhall, present and future. And a sad day for the future of preservation efforts in Mississippi.
Categories: Historic Preservation