Mississippi can document a number of community houses constructed under the auspices of the New Deal Administration, including FERA (Pontotoc and Macon) and WPA (Winona, Biloxi, Carrollton, Enterprise, Grenada, and Eupora). Additionally, at least 6 other facilities are conjectured to have been built by FERA (Leland and Louisville) and WPA (Teoc, Magnolia, Magee, Raleigh, and Soso).
Magee’s Community House is conjectured by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory database to be built c. 1935 by the WPA. The one-story building is described as Colonial Revival, but it has no external markings that indicate a connection to the builders, and thus, far, the newspaper archives have been of minimal help.
From the historical archives during the New Deal years (1933-1944), one item mentions canning beef at the Magee community house under the Simpson County Resettlement Administration program (Magee Courier, Dec. 13, 1935, p. 1). The January 30, 1941 Magee Courier reported:
…contracts for material for the community center were awarded and work on the foundation was being done on ‘construction of much needed center in Magee.’ (p. 1)
Although several Magee projects funded by the PWA are mentioned in 1935 news items, nothing about the community house was located. The first mention of community house construction was the May 15, 1941 item (pictured below) congratulating the Board of Aldermen, Lions Club, and Woman’s Club for the facility construction. In August, a plumber was paid $2.00 out of the Community Center Fund for 4 hours of work on the house, and in September, the Community Center Fund paid a worker $22.19 for 71 hours of work on the community house.
In 1956, new concrete steps were constructed at three points at the community house, and it was referenced as the community center.
…steps will enable everyone to mount the bank onto the sidewalk with more ease and assurance. (“Community House has new look,” Magee Courier, July 26, 1956, p. 1).
The Magee Courier reported in a 1962 article that the center had been “constructed some 20 years ago” and that officials needed to consider installing central air conditioning. That date would indicate the 1941 facility constructed would be the above-pictured community center, which apparently might not have full air conditioning even today as two window units are visible on the side elevation.
Notable also is that only one of the other community houses constructed in the mid-1930s was Colonial Revival style–the Biloxi Beach Community house. Tudor Revival, Craftsman, and Rustic (both log and rock) were the designs of choice during those years. It is possible the 1935 community house referenced a building that is no longer extant, or that the new community center constructed in 1941 was built on the same location, or that new construction enlarged or altered the earlier building. For example, the New Deal Biloxi community house was rebuilt on the same location as the previous community house structure.
Can anyone from the MissPres nation weigh in with additional information?