It is not an uncommon experience when traveling the back roads of Mississippi and talking with people about the buildings they know about to hear, “This building was moved from the airfield after World War II.” This seems most common in stories about buildings on school campuses, such as gymnasiums, vocational buildings, cafeterias, or even (in the case of African American schools), the classroom building itself. Not that I ever doubt the stories as a true phenomenon, but it’s hard to tell whether it’s true for a particular building. I’m sure if we dug into financial and inventory records of the various bases, presuming those still exist, that we could start to track these usually frame buildings classified by the military as “temporary” but usually made of good solid pine, back when good solid pine was still a thing.
Wikipedia has a whole page dedicated to “Mississippi World War II Army Airfields” in which it addresses the moved buildings and gives us a map and a list of the airfields:
It is still possible to find remnants of these wartime airfields. Many were converted into municipal airports, some were returned to agriculture and several were retained as United States Air Force installations and were front-line bases during the Cold War. Hundreds of the temporary buildings that were used survive today, and are being used for other purposes.
Anyway, these two clippings from the Laurel Leader-Call (both from October 1948) show that contractors Coleman & Co. were really working for their business, even offering some nice little sketches as suggestions for how to use the buildings. I hadn’t ever considered that garages and even the roadside stands of my youth might have been recycled World War II buildings. These also give us a good indication of how far away from a base a building might travel: intact up to 10 miles, but dismantled up to a 100 mile radius.
The idea of the dismantled building reminded me of the Baxterville Gymnasium in Lamar County, designated as a Mississippi Landmark in 2011, with this note, “possibly built with re-used materials from an aircraft hangar at nearby Camp Shelby.” You never know!