Strangely enough for a National Historic Landmark (and one of the 101 Mississippi Places To See Before You Die), we really don’t appear to have great information about the construction of Oakland Chapel at Alcorn State University. Originally built as the chapel for Oakland College, a Presbyterian school, the building later became the centerpiece of the nation’s first land-grant college for African Americans when Alcorn College opened in 1871. While the HABS information from 1972 below gives a construction date of 1837, the Mississippi Historic Resources Database gives a date of 1840-51, a range probably taken from Ed Polk Douglas’s Architecture in Claiborne County: A Selective Guide (1974, p. 81). The MDAH database goes on to give yet another start date, apparently derived from the National Historic Landmark nomination:
Begun in 1838 as the main building of Oakland College, it is now the oldest building of Alcorn State University, the first land-grant college for African Americans in the nation. A temple-form Greek Revival brick auditorium with a two-story-high interior space, on a high brick basement, with a hexastyle portico. The iron steps leading to the portico were formerly the front steps of “Windsor” (021-ALC-1001).
Surely the names of the architect and builders of such an imposing building were recorded somewhere for us to find 170 years later?
It’s disappointing that HABS took no interior photos in this 1972 photo shoot. This is one building I’ve never been inside of, so I’ll have to make do with the photos MDAH took in 2013, which you can find here or by clicking on the image below.
Read more . . .
- Historic American Buildings Survey
- MDAH Historic Resources Database
- National Historic Landmark nomination