Suzassippi’s Mississippi: Old Sardis High School

Sardis High School front elevationI confess to more than a little frustration these past two weeks, ranging from research dead ends to the weather.  I have been all over Arkansas and Memphis, which has caused me to sorely neglect Mississippi.  And, speaking of neglected Mississippi, how about the 1920 three-story Sardis High School?  The Sardis Public Library’s Community Analysis in 2010 said of it:

…stands empty and in need of repair. (p. 13)

Books in the windowI am presuming that the “empty” refers to not currently in use, although I had to wonder at the piles of what look like new books in the windows of one of the rooms, and the fact that a couple of windows were open a few inches.  None the less, it was distressing to see this imposing building deteriorating, whether from lack of resources for care or intentional vandalism.

Sardis School MuseumThis is one of those times when no amount of searching will turn up anything about the building other than the brief mention in the 2010 community analysis, which of course, I did not know about when I was there Saturday or I could have stopped at that public library whilst driving right past it.  I can find no mention of the Sardis School Museum, or reference to the dedication of this marker, but there must have been plans for this building–grand ones.  It looks as if windows were replaced, and other than bricks falling down or being knocked down from the walls on the steps, there did not seem to be any glaring problems.  I hope we have some MissPres readers out in Sardis who can fill in some of the huge gaps in the information.  I have dedicated the better part of a day to searching archives and references in the library, all to no avail.

Mississippi Department of Archives and History Historic Resources Inventory Database, which provided the limited information I could find on this building, indicated that the no longer extant Old Sardis Public School was also located on McLaurin Street.  Everyone do your homework this week–gold stars and extra points!

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Categories: Historic Preservation, Schools


21 replies

  1. What a handsome building! Thank you for brining it to our attention. Do the brick have a “Comb face” to them?

    From what I can see on the Sanborn maps is the the earlier highschool you spoke of appears to be a wood frame building on a raised basement built prior to February of 1897. This building seemed to grow with the needs of the school system.

    In April 1925 the building that appears in todays post shows up on the Sanborn maps, replacing the 19th century school house. But it was not until the January 1940 Map that the “Built 1920” was included next to the building. It also looks like the school acquired a field house sometime between 1925-1940.

    I uploaded the pertinent maps here.


    • Yes, comb face brick. Thanks for the maps–interesting. There are two remaining buildings that I will talk about in a later post.


      • Glad to know the other buildings still stand. I am excited to hear that we will get to learn about the other buildings!

        The memorial is an interesting one. I couldn’t make out the plaque but it looks like its from the 1990’s? The shell casing appear to be 90mm(it’s hard to tell with nothing to scale them next to) and since one is rusting I’m going to guess they are steel?


        • November 9, 1996–but when you start talking shell casings, you are out of my league.


          • That was the Saturday before Veterans Day that year. Ive always been curious about how our Mississippi cities and towns memorialize our veterans. Often you will see an artillery piece or a tank. Some times its a helicopter or even a jet plane. Ive seen shells or shot, but I cant recall ever seeing shell casings. I wonder how these pieces ended up in Sardis and what their history is.

            Biloxi might have the oldest pieces incorporated into a war memorial. The four cannons at Billy Guice Veterans Memorial Park are said to date to the 18th century. I wonder what Mississippi community has the most recent piece of military equipment associated with a memorial?


  2. I know a couple of people who could give you a good bit of information on this building. I will call them later today and see what I can find.


  3. So sad to see such a solid and useful building going to ruin. It is a story replayed across the land. When are we going to learn to reuse these solid structures? Why not convert this old school into apartments?


  4. I may be totally off base here, but this building looks very much like two “neighborhood” schools in Laurel, one of which has been demolished that were also both built in the 1920’s.
    They were the Prentiss Elementary School on 15th Avenue (gone) and the Lamar Elementary School.
    I wonder if these were common styles and plans from that era.


    • You piqued my interest. I looked up those schools on the Mdah hri database

      Lamar Elementary is a handsome school. I hate to hear that it lost a sibling. It’s possible they these 1913 Laurel elementary schools had the same architect as the 1920 Sardis high school but you are correct that they are some what indicative of compulsory education design and construction from that period.


      • Interesting to know that they were built in 1913. My father and I each attended the Prentiss school, in the forties and seventies, respectively, haha and he, being a postman in Laurel for about forty years after the Navy, was under the impression that those twin schools dated from the twenties. I’d love to find some old pictures of the Prentiss school where I attended until ’78 when full segregation took place and we were bussed south to the equally architecturally beautiful Oak Park Elementary on Queensburg Avenue for the sixth grade.


      • You’ve now piqued my interest even more. Thanks, Thomas, for the maps. It’s like a trip down memory lane. We lived on Eleventh Avenue between the Prentiss school and Daphne Park where I worked at the city pool ( a WPA project) in the early eighties as a lifeguard. Some of the most fun I’ve yet to have! haha


      • Actually, the two elementary schools DO have the same architects! Now from what I can tell Robert McKnight may have built Sardis High School, since he designed the gym/vocational building, as well as an elementary building. Uhm, and I’m guessing Sardis High School was a consolidated school for grades K-12, because MDAH lists the elementary building and high school building as both the Sardis School White Complex.

        So Luther Brasfield was the architect for both of those Laurel elementary schools, and Robert McKnight was possibly the architect for Sardis High.


        • Thanks for the information. This has sparked my interest on the two schools in Laurel. Prentiss for sure since I attended there.


        • Brasfield was not the original 1913 architect for both Laurel school buildings but rather designed the additions in 1949.

          The Sardis high school and elementary schools are different structures. The high school was built in 1920 while the elementary school was built in 1948. If you Search for “school” under name and set the city as “Sardis” you will see the separate entries for each building. They must be on the same campus though because their ID numbers are 107-Sar-0011.1 and 107-Sar-0011.2


          • Thanks for all the information. I truly wish to see the old Sardis high school repurposed and saved for the sake of history and the benefit of the current community. It seems, just from the photos, of course to be sound and I hope to see interest renewed in it very soon.


            • I agree with another poster on here that it should be turned into apartments or condos, or maybe office space, or better yet a community center for the town!


            • Absolutely! I know many coastal cities have converted their school buildings to other purposes with much success. Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Gulfport, Ocean Springs, and Pascagoula all have taken on such projects and all of them are of varying sizes and styles. While some restorations have been more sensitive than others all the listed cities still have a historic school contributing to their community. A building with a purpose stays around a lot longer than a building without a purpose.


  5. Yes Sir! Well stated. Here in Hattiesburg even old, dilapidated office buildings have now been repurposed, remodeled, rejuvenated and now house upscale apartments in the upper floors and retail, cultural and dining spaces are evidently planned for the lobby areas on the first floors. I am speaking of the Carter and American buildings and they are truly an inspiration in the “finding a purpose for some old and previously vacant buildings” category.


  6. I went to high school there from 1959 through 1961. 1961 was our junior year and the last year the school was open. North Panola high was opened in 1962 and we were the first graduation class there. The people in Sardis had several clubs that meet in the old building also they held church there. They keep the old building in good shape. Our 1962 class held reunions there in 1992 and 2002 That was the last time i was in the building, and it was in good shape. Looks like nobody in taking care of it. Sure hate that



  1. Sardis Elementary Building « Preservation in Mississippi

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