Meridian’s Nationally Significant COFO Building Comes Down

Angie Barker of Meridian sent these sad pictures of Saturday’s demolition of the COFO building where Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman worked.

To read more about the COFO Building and the recent unsuccessful effort to save it, read “COFO Building and the Remembrance of the Civil Rights Movement’s Historic Sites

Categories: African American History, Civil Rights, Demolition/Abandonment, Meridian


10 replies

  1. What a disaster. How shortsighted.


  2. Meridian in the news again! Sad news indeed.


  3. Meridiots strike again. Pretty soon there won’t be anything left there.

    “How will we know it’s us without our past?” -Grapes of Wrath


  4. Aside from the intrinsic (historical, architectural, etc.) importance of a building itself, one of the chief difficulties when a structure is demolished is the visual disorientation which occurs for those whose entire association with the area is tied to the structure’s assumed presence. After demolition, anyone familiar with the area feels like he has entered a kind of war zone, a sort of ‘ground zero’ whose visual desolation can instantly produce a very real sense of internal desolation as people are forever severed from the sight of structural realities which tied them to their past. And of course, for those who never saw the demolished structure in life, there will never be any actual lived experience of what it was like to behold the now lost building before their eyes. It doesn’t take much of this kind of thing to alter the character of a town or city forever. And certainly callous destruction of rural structures can produce this same effect in the non-urban landscape as well.


  5. Thank you for sharing the story.


  6. Sigh. Small-town politicians strike again. Once their town is gone, what is left to remind future generations of their cultural origins? Maybe strips, malls, and fast-food joints are where we come from as a people now.


  7. COFO building, torn down without permit, has asbestos
    Clarion Ledger
    Jerry Mitchell Blog

    Environmental officials say they warned city officials in Meridian that a permit was needed before tearing down the historic building where James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and his wife, Rita, all worked in 1964.
    The building, where the Council of Federated Organizations kept its office in 1964, was torn down anyway, said Robby Wilbur, communications director for the state Department of Environmental Quality.
    “Demolition requires an asbestos inspection report and also the submission of a project demolition notification form to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality,” he said. “These were not done.”
    On Monday, DEQ inspectors found asbestos in the rubble.

    When breathed in, asbestos can scar the lungs and hamper breathing. Repeated exposure to asbestos can cause cancer.

    Prior to the razing, there had been attempts to restore the property and turn it into a possible place for tourists because of the connection to Chaney and Schwerner, who along with Andrew Goodman, were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964.

    Meridian Community Development Director John McClure said a collapsed roof had hurt those efforts.
    He said his office had told the contractor he needed a city permit before razing the building.
    That city paperwork includes a requirement for all environmental permits, he said. Because the contractor had failed to get a city permit in advance, the fee was doubled, he said.

    Because asbestos was found, the contractor could face a monetary fine.

    McClure said the city faces no liability because it warned the contractor.


  8. MDEQ verified the positive asbestos test results. Now, they are working towards safe disposing of the debris at the site and proper disposal of the debris already at the non-hazardous landfill…


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