New Deal in Mississippi: Vardaman school buildings

It’s been a bit since we toured any of the New Deal buildings in Mississippi, so I thought it was high time for a road trip to Vardaman–the one and only sweet potato capital of the world.  Unfortunately, up here in the North (north Mississippi) it has been a round of ice and snow and ice, so I haven’t road tripped anywhere of late.  I’ll be road tripping right on out of Mississippi tomorrow, so we’ll be making a virtual trip to Vardaman this week, and taking a look at the school buildings that were erected by the New Deal administration.

The new Vardaman High School building was constructed in 1939 by the Public Works Administration, Mississippi Project 1319 at a cost of $19,000.  The architect was John McGaughey Feemster.  That building burned in February 1957. (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory).

In 1941, the National Youth Administration followed up with construction of the vocational building and the gymnasium.  A local youth, Herman K. Smith, was a worker with the NYA and helped to build the Vardaman gym according to the Vardaman History Project.

Retrieved from MDAH/HRI map of historic building locations 02/26/2015

Retrieved from MDAH/HRI map of historic building locations 02/26/2015

The red square signifies the location of the former gymnasium; the building with the round purple dot in the center of the map is the old vocational building.  A cannery building was erected by the WPA prior to the school.  Canneries were sometimes connected to the schools in order to utilize training and food storage as part of the work relief programs.  The cannery building still exists although covered in siding and should be located in the vicinity of the vocational building if that information is correct.  I am in hopes one of the Vardaman History Project folks might enlighten us on the cannery.

Categories: Historic Preservation, New Deal, Schools


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