If you have been following the Meridian Trilogy the past few weeks, you already know that Captain A. B. Avery’s house was located at 603 North 25th Avenue, and that by 1912, the Sanborn map showed Meridian Medicine [sic] College in the footprint of the Avery House. The next Sanborn map was not done until 1950 and the Standard Drug Company (the follow-up to Hopkins & Bethea Drug Store and Part II of the Trilogy) was located in the space that previously held both the Avery House (Part I of the Trilogy) and the Mississippi Medicine College.
Once again, going back into the newspaper archives, I have tried to piece together the story of the Meridian Medicine/Medical College, the final part of the story of North 25th Avenue. It does not definitively answer the question (and we already know newspaper articles are not “proof”), but it does give some clues as to what might have transpired.
Mississippi Medical College
Retrieved from pinterest.com January 29, 2017
I located the above photograph on a Pinterest board, but there was no attribution for the photograph. The caption claimed it was in the 1890s, although after Captain Avery sold his house pictured above, it was operated as a boarding house until at least 1903. Other searches have not turned up this image anywhere else, and a google search of the image links it only with the pinterest site.
Meridian’s Medical College was first mentioned in the Mississippi papers when the Vicksburg American (21 May 1906, p. 5) announced:
The structure is to be a three-story brick located on Fifth Street between 24th and 25th Avenues…character of the men back of the enterprise gives assurance of its success.
A few days later, the Clarke County Times reported construction had begun and the building would open the following fall as the first medical college to be established in Mississippi, with $25,000 capital (25 May 1906, p. 2). The MCC was formally opened October 1, 1906 (Times-Democrat, p. 2) and graduated the first class of 22 in 1907 (Polk’s Medical Register and Directory of the United States and Canada, 1917, p. 164; Vicksburg American, 02 Apr 1907, p. 4). The first class included O. W. Bethea of Hopkins & Bethea, although he would go on to Tulane Medical School afterward. The New Orleans Times-Democrat (3 Oct 1906, p. 10) included a photograph of the construction in progress.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory, lists the Mississippi Medical College Building as occupying 2400 5th Street, constructed 1906-07, and 3 stories, and includes the two photographs below. This building was not extant by 2006.
By 1910, the Mississippi Medical College decided to expand the facility on 5th Street, at a cost of $30,000 according to the Meridian Evening Star, and between $50,000-75,000 according to the Vicksburg Evening Post.
Realizing that the present quarters and equipment are insufficient to meet the needs of a growing institution, the directors of the Mississippi Medical College, at a meeting held last night, decided to build a large addition to the present structure and equip it with the best of modern appliances.
The present structure will not be abandoned, but will be used in conjunction with the new hospital and college building. The new addition will be modern in every respect, and will be a three-story brick structure. It will stand on the lot now occupied by a store building on the corner of Sixth street and Twenty-fifth avenue. The old store will be torn down to make additional room. (Meridian Evening Star, 09 Mar 1910, p. 2)
A few months later, progress was reported, and the new buildings were scheduled to open in September 1910.
Work was begun today on the new proposed Mississippi Medical College, which is to be erected in this city by the directors and stockholders of the old Meridian Medical College. The new building will be three stories in height, having a frontage of fifty feet and a depth of one hundred feet. The new college will be erected on the site of the old college at the corner of Sixth street and Twenty-fifth avenue. (Daily News, 21 Jul 1910, p. 2)
The Mississippi state legislature passed a new medical practice act in 1912 requiring applicants for medical license hold diplomas from “reputable medical colleges, the purpose being to elevate the professional standards” (Jackson Daily News, 28 May 1912, p. 5).
As one of the results of this statute, the Mississippi Medical College at Meridian has quit business, chiefly through fear that the state board of health would not recognize its graduates. The percentage of failures among students from that institution during the past few years has been notably large, owing to the low standard of the course of study.
By March 1913, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks were proposing to build a new home for the Elks Lodge on the site. According to the New Orleans Times-Democrat (11 March 1913, p. 6)
The old Mississippi Medical College building and grounds, 26th Avenue and Sixth Street, one of the best properties in Meridian, was sold at auction today by the trustees of the college to J. M. McBeath, Walter G. Hodges, and H. F. Broach, local capitalists. The price paid for the property was $22, 230.
Although not stated officially, that news item and subsequent June articles stated that it was “generally understood” that the Elks were “behind the purchase.” All sorts of speculations were reported, and April 4, 1914, the Jackson Daily News finally reported that the Elks home on 26th Avenue and 6th Street “opposite the new city hall property” would be constructed in the center of the block and that all Mississippi Medical College buildings would be demolished. While there is no clear indication of what buildings were included, since there is no Elks Lodge indicated in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s Historic Records Inventory database, and no further mention in the newspapers post 1914-1920 of the new construction, the Elks Lodge plan did not seem to materialize.
As you know from Part I of the Trilogy, Standard Drug Company bought the former Mississippi Medical College property in 1919, demolishing at least some of the buildings to construct a new drug manufacturing facility that took up much of the block.
- Captain Avery built a lovely home on 603 North 25th circa 1870,
- which was occupied at some point by Mississippi Medical College at least after 1903,
- Hopkins and Bethea demolished a building and built a new drugstore on 2408 5th Street in 1900,
- which later became the African American Star Theater in 1939,
- Mississippi Medical College built a new building at 2400 5th Street in 1906,
- and apparently built additional buildings on 25th Avenue and 6th Street between 1910 and 1911,
- but the college closed in 1912,
- “capitalists” bought the Mississippi Medical College in 1913 for the Elks to build a new lodge,
- but that did not seem to happen by 1914 even though they said it would,
- and Hopkins of Standard Drug Company demolished something (Avery House aka Mississippi Medical College) or new Mississippi Medical College, or unnamed capitalist venture to construct a new building on the corner of 25th and 6th,
- which operated as a business until 1977, and
- is the current home of Specialty Roll Products.