New Deal in Mississippi: Carthage Elementary School

Carthage Elementary School

After the recent news of demolished historic buildings, and possible demolition and demolition-by-neglect stories, and the buildings that were lost in 2015, it is always a pleasure to provide a deserving round of applause and highlight the accomplishments of a community who recognized the importance of a historic structure and opted to work to preserve it and use it for the benefit of the community.  And, you just have to love a community that not only preserved the building, but memorialized it on the 2015 Commemorative Carthage Mississippi Ornaments for sale by the Carthage Main Street and the Leake County Chamber of Commerce.

Back in 2007, the Leake County Foundation began seeking tax-deductible contributions to restore the auditorium of the former elementary school building, constructed with funding from the Public Works Administration in 1937-1938.  The auditorium restoration was the first phase of renovation of the building to a community center, with Robin Burgess as Project Director and Reverend Jeffery Jones as Project Fundraising Chairman (“Leake County Foundation seeks contributions,” Stratgic Connections, vol. 2, issue 4, 2007).  In December 2009, ELMalvaney reported that the Community Heritage Preservation Grant program awarded Carthage $134,400 for building preservation.

The Colonial Revival building was designed by James Manly Spain as PWA project 1233, authorized August 23, 1937.  Construction began December 30, 1937 and was completed September 23, 1938.  The project was estimated to cost $95,454 and PWA funded $42,924 with a grant (Status of completed non-federal allotted projects, Report # 5 Mississippi, January 3, 1940).

In the nomination form for the Carthage Historic District, National Register of Historic Places, David Preziozi described the school:

I-shaped brick one story front and a two story rear portion…Tuscan columns support the recessed entrance…arched fanlight above the wood doors.


Categories: Carthage, Historic Preservation, New Deal, Schools


4 replies

  1. I know this is a basic question, but how did Carthage get it together to save and restore this handsome building and similar-sized towns throughout the state just dont get it? I know there are at least a few “educated'” supervisors and mayors (bearing in mind that education doesn’t necessarily mean a formal degree…in anything) in every town. What’s the missing spark?


    • Perhaps someone from Carthage can answer your question. The answer is often whether or not there is the political will to do it–we often can do far more than we usually do, in whatever realm needs “the doing.”


  2. More specifically, how can I urge my county’s Board of Supervisors (or county judge?) to take a look at our architecturally abused courthouse, which is in dire need of restoration? One trial and execution in this building was covered internationally, so it has earned it’s historical bona fides.


  3. Most elected officials pay attention to arguments that come with money or economic advantages attached. The Community Heritage Preservation Grant, which is geared directly for courthouses and schools, has been a real advantage in talking with judges and supervisors. Unfortunately, some officials are just outright opposed to any “old building,” and in those cases, as with the Lamar County Courthouse, it might involve waiting out that administration in hopes of someone better coming along. In the meantime, get to know your local newspaper reporters, who are always looking for a story, and maybe volunteer to research or photograph the building and highlight its special characteristics that couldn’t be replicated today and why it should be preserved.


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