New Deal in Mississippi: Edwards’ CWA Swimming Pool & Improvements

Edwards swimming pool construction

Improvement Projects “Building swimming pool at Edwards, Hinds County, Miss.” Retrieved from Series 443 Works Progress Administration Scrapbooks, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Digital Archives.

The town of Edwards used Civil Works Administration (CWA) funds to finish a school playground, construct a swimming pool, municipal park, and athletic field improvements.  Windows in the two-story brick high school were repainted and repaired.  A teachers’ home was renovated, new plumbing installed, and painted, along with foundation beam stabilization.  The completion and opening of the athletic field, park, and swimming pool were called

…sensible and beneficial…comparatively permanent…and all will render real community service and benefits. (Clarion-Ledger, May 3, 1934, p. 6)

Dedication ceremonies were held May 4, 1934, with a ceremony at the school for the athletic field, picnic at the park, and adjournment to the swimming pool for the final part of the day’s festivities.  I have been unable to pinpoint exact locations for any of the 3 municipal improvements, but newspaper items give clues, as does the swimming pool photograph if one knew locations of 1934 buildings, particularly the mission-style service station visible.

The “natural bowl used as an athletic field” was enlarged to approximately 300 yards square and some 6-10,000 cubic yards of dirt removed, followed by construction of a concrete stadium with “ample seating.”  By 1955, Edwards did not have a football program.

I assume the pool and park would have been located in proximity to each other, and the only area that seems likely is near to the downtown area.  There is a small park area in the block created by Main, Magnolia, Old 80 and the railroad/Front streets.

The new Edwards High School was constructed 1920 by N. W. Overstreet and was located on Magnolia Street at the curve of Highway 80.  It was demolished c. 1985 per MDAH Historic Resources Inventory.   The stone letters spelling out Edwards on the embankment and visible in the photograph in the 1955 newspaper article below are still extant.  The teacher’s residence was next to the school, facing Broadway, next door to the Presbyterian Church and is not extant.  In 1942, the National Youth Administration erected the gymnasium across the street from the high school, in the curve of Highway 80.  Though in disrepair and continuing to deteriorate, the gymnasium is extant.


Clarion-Ledger, March 6, 1955.

The Civil Works Administration was created November 9, 1933,¹ and headed by social worker Harry Hopkins, who had worked for President Roosevelt when he was governor of New York.  CWA was designed to be a temporary program to help those unemployed weather the winter of 1933-34.²  The CWA was funded by the Public Works Administration, Federal Emergency Relief Administration, and a Congressional appropriation.² Ending in July 1934, the program had over 200,000 projects.²  Due to the success of the program and the losses felt by its closure, the program was recreated as the Works Progress Administration in 1935.

Sources: (1) The American Presidency Project, Franklin D. Roosevelt, retrieved from Living New Deal; (2) Harry L. Hopkins, Spending to Save: The Complete Story of Relief, retrieved from Living New Deal.

Clarion-Ledger Dec. 19, 1933, January 10, 1934, January 18, 1934, April 22, 1934, May 2, 1934, and May 3, 1934.


Categories: Edwards, Historic Preservation, MS Dept. of Archives and History, New Deal


12 replies

  1. I thought the block created by Main, Magnolia, Old 80 and the railroad/Front streets, was the logical location for the pool, considering it would be right next to the waterworks. The Sanborn Maps of Edwards from 1886-1938 all define that space as a “Public Square”, and it housed the Alabama & Vicksburg rail station. The 1938 Sanborn Maps show a 100’+ long swimming pool where the Post Office is now located at Withers and Senseman. The athletic field is a bit more vexing. You’d think a concrete, in-ground bowl stadium would be difficult to demolish? Or at least it would show up on a Sanborn Map or an aerial photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One article referenced a “natural bowl” and there is one just down (or up?) the road from the old high school. I turned up nothing else about the field though, but someone must know. And, I also thought it possible that it was never fully built. The field was graded, and perhaps stadium seats?


  2. I was born in Edwards, and know all of these places quite well. The pool was located at the NE corner of Senseman St. and Hwy. 467. The athletic field was due west of the school gymnasium, and the seating was just a wide tier of concrete steps leading down to it from the school. How I never broke any bones while playing on them is a mystery! The park is most likely the area just north of the pool, as it had a playground and tennis court, just behind the Baptist church. The pool and the park were one contiguous area. The area near the railroad tracks was always paved, to my knowledge, and a small part was converted to a park after the railroad depot was torn down, in the 1980s, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

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