Before: The 1942 Works Progress Administration Clinton Elementary School; After: The 2014 Residence Hall

Clinton Elementary School

Photo by Jennifer Baughn, retrieved from Mississippi Department of Archives and History Historic Resources Inventory, http://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/prop.aspx?id=11466&view=facts&y=1112

This beautiful Colonial Revival building was designed by architect J. M. Spain and constructed by the Works Progress Administration in 1942 (Progress public works in state, August 10, 1942, Biloxi Daily Herald, p. 1).  As duly noted in 2010,

The old elementary building at this campus was built as the last gasp of the Federal Works Agency and maintained its Colonial Revival style and intact auditorium space.  The school property was abandoned by the school district and is to be acquired by Mississippi College, probably to tear down all the buildings on the campus. (Mississippi Landmarks 2010, Preservation in Mississippi)

Perhaps Malvaney was just prescient in knowing that Mississippi College would not pay over 3 million dollars for a “beautiful piece of property, and the location could not be better in terms of proximity to our campus” (Mississippi College completes Clinton property purchase, 2010) unless they intended to demolish it–given that they were landlocked.  The Clinton mayor, Rosemary Aultman, said of the sale,

MC is the right entity to own the property–they’ve been long identified with education, she said.  We’re anxiously awaiting improvements on the property.

Perhaps whether or not that is accurate depends on how one views “improvements.”  For 3 years following purchase of the property, nothing happened.  In October, Mississippi College requested of the City of Clinton Planning and Zoning Commission permission to demolish the historic building…with nary a mention in the minutes that it was a historic building, deeply significant in the history of Mississippi’s efforts to educate children, and to climb out of the economic pit that was the Great Depression.  The purpose of the demolition was to build additional student housing for the college, and the request was approved, with no discussion noted in the minutes of the meeting.

In December 2013, MC released plans to construct new resident halls, that would house 189 units (Mississippi College constructs new residence halls in 2014).  And wow, just look how attractive it is, contrasted with that boring old 1942 historic building.



Categories: Clinton, Demolition/Abandonment, New Deal

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10 replies

  1. At least when the German Luftwaffe knocked down buildings it did not replace them with anything more offensive than rubble. (Prince Charles)

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  2. I’ve not heard that, but it certainly seems appropriate here.

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  3. it looks like a perfectly good building to me. Shame on those folks that didn’t realize what a treasure they had in this building.

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  4. There was a beautiful Colonial Revival gymnasium on this campus, also by James Spain, which unfortunately, the MDAH Board of Trustees, in a precursor of the infamous Mendenhall School decision, allowed to be demolished in 2008, even though a spirited and organized local group was fighting for its preservation. Check out pictures here: https://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/prop.aspx?id=11467&view=facts&y=856

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  5. How incredibly sad. It’s a shame they couldn’t have just figured out how to turn “that” building into dorms. What a terrible waste.

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  6. Thank you for this post about a handsome building and the unfortunate news of its destruction.  I hate to read another post about a building whose destruction was a forgone conclusion.  My initial thoughts are about what we as a preservation community can do but with Malvaney’s examples of the MC auditorium and Mendenhall school just to name two places that had active support for preservation, I’m left wondering what can be done?

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    • I know what you mean. It also seems that the longer a building sits unused, the less likely it can be saved even when there is a desire to do so. And if we did not let them sit there unused and deteriorating it would not require so much to save it when the desire to do so was present. Surely there has to be some strategy to be utilized, but what is happening with historic post offices across the country even with tremendous advocacy from historic preservation is so discouraging, it leaves us all wondering what can be done.

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      • You’re absolutely right. For every White House or King Edward hotel there are hundreds of buildings that don’t stand a chance when left to their own. Occupied buildings even in a state of disrepair stand up better than empty ones.

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