Lynville School Complex: Home Economics Building and Teachers’ Houses

Home Economics buildingLast week we toured the WPA-built Lynville school building, with some good news about efforts to restore the building for community use.  The home economics building was constructed that same year, in 1941.  Mississippi, like many other states, often utilized free-standing home ec cottages in the rural school districts.  Although there is documentation that WPA received funding to construct the school building, it does not specify if the home economics building was also built with WPA labor and funding–though many have been documented in Mississippi.  The only information about the building is it has a chimney and hip roof (Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Historic Resources Inventory).

Home economics cottages were furnished like a home, with bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen.  Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the home economics movement’s prominent advocates and her efforts to promote the development of Cornell’s College of Home Economics were instrumental in the development of the program and the movement.

…innovations in food conservation and preparation, product and housing design, textiles, home management and budgeting, as well as new scientific ideas about child development  (What was home economics?  Cornell University)

helped to shape the future of this new type of education and research.  In 1914, instruction in home economics was mandated by the Smith-Lever Act, and funding followed for scientific investigation for rural-home-management studies; during the Depression, the Bankhead-Jones Act provided federal funding for the study of nutritional needs (What type of research did home economists do? Cornell University).

These home economics cottages were ubiquitous across the Mississippi landscape.  Lynville constructed two teacher’s houses for the complex as well–both circa 1940.  Those houses are no longer extant according to MDAH.

Meanwhile, enjoy a little review of some of the NYA constructed home economics and vocational agriculture buildings constructed in Mississippi, along with one from our neighbors in Oak Grove, Arkansas.  Next week, we’ll finish up our visit to Lynville school with a quick pick-up game at the gym, so dig out your high-tops and practice your hoops–it promises to be intense competition!

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Categories: Historic Preservation, New Deal, Schools

5 replies

  1. This Lynville building is unique, as far as I know, as the only surviving example of one of the state’s first standardized vocational building plans, Plan No. V1. You can see the plan, published in “Conditions and Requirements for Establishing Departments of Vocational Agriculture and Vocational Home Economics in Mississippi High Schools under Provisions of the Federal Smith-Hughes Act” (Jackson, Miss.: State Board for Vocational Education, October 1930) here:

    Called a “Combination Vocational Building,” it contained both a home economics lab for girls and a shop and agriculture lab for boys. I was fortunate to be able to walk through this building a couple of years ago with several former students who recalled how each space was used, and it was very close to the published plan. Thanks for taking notice–this is a small, easily overlooked, but important building.


  2. Regarding Newton County Vo Ag Home Ec retrieved from Series 2018 NYA Photograph Album, MDAH, those are NOT “lite-weight” concrete blocks. Those are REAL concrete blocks!

    Liked by 1 person

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