Mid-Century Mississippi: Jackson’s Bailey Junior High School

This article from the March 14, 1937 issue of the Clarion-Ledger manages an in-depth description of Jackson’s iconic Art Moderne school without ever mentioning its architects, N.W. Overstreet and A.H. Town of Jackson. I also realized for the first time, when it mentions the Bailey property was acquired from the State of Mississippi, this was part of the enormous asylum property that only became available for other uses after the state hospital had vacated the site in 1935. Although most of the asylum campus sat north of what is now Woodrow Wilson, the lands surrounding it, worked by patients, provided food for the asylum. Now I want to look back at some aerials of the period before 1935 to see if the Bailey property was part of that farming operation.

Edward L. Bailey Junior High Is Near Completion


Magnificent Structure Topping Million Dollar Building Plan in City


“That individual is best educated whose knowledge is broadest whose understanding is deepest and whose services noblest. If society would justify its investment in education let it do so in these things.”

This inscription set into the monolithic concrete walls of the new Edward L. Bailey Junior high school on North State street is synonymous with the aims of the Jackson school system.

Jackson’s huge building program nearing completion is expected to be another step in the direction of this objective.

Thirteen city schools have undergone alterations and modernization, one new school, the Poindexter elementary school on Robinson street, has just been completed and students moved in and the new Edward L. Bailey Junior high school is rapidly nearing completion.

The new $325,000 building situated on a 20-acre site purchased from the state of Mississippi, is conveniently located for students of junior high school age in north Jackson.

Planned with forethought and profiting by the mistakes in other institutions of similar construction, the new building is considered on of the most modern and efficient schools buildings in the south.

It is constructed of monolithic concrete and presents a massive exterior appearance, though architecturally planned along modern lines.

At the entrance the student is greeted with bas-reliefs of Thomas Hinds, after whom the county was named, and Pushmataha, Indian chief with whom a treaty for the land was made.

Fireproof Hallways

A large foyer leads into the building proper, arranged with long fireproof hallways extending the entire width of the building. Class rooms open off these hallways arranged similarly on each floor.

There are twenty-one class rooms in addition to art, home economics, industrial art, science, visual education, band and activity rooms.

The stairs are uniquely arranged so that landings are situated between floor levels, thus eliminating congestion and unnecessary crowding at recess time.

A large and modernly equipped cafeteria is located on the ground floor or basement, with accommodations to handle 400 students at a time. Every modern convenience and sanitary provision is being made for preparation and care of food.

The basement also accommodates storage rooms and dressing rooms for both local and visiting athletic teams, with showers for both boys and girls. Spiral iron staircases lead to the gymnasium floor directly above.

The gymnasium is large and well ventilated with adequate accommodations for spectators. The band room opens just off the gymnasium.

The library is well lighted by natural light, which floods in through ceiling-high windows, and built-in shelves are arranged conveniently. Two small conference rooms open off the library for use by students being coached.

Class rooms are arranged for easy access and are equipped with outside lockers and blackboards along one side of the interior of the room. Large windows provide sufficient light without the use of electrical fixtures, which are abundant in each room.

A number of conference rooms, offices and special student activity rooms are located throughout the building and provided with equipment characteristic of their particular activity.

Large Auditorium

The auditorium, situated in the right wing of the building, is arranged to accommodate between 1200 and 1400 students. Its floor is slightly elevated away from a large stage, provided with back-stage entrances. A small decorative balcony is constructed in the west end, opposite the stage.

The building may be entered by three entrances on the front, on the east, the side of the building, at either end or at three entrance in the rear, or east side of building. A driveway will be constructed in the rear of the building so that students may be deposited under sheltered entrances during rainy weather.

Special emphasis has also been placed on the foundation, which is constructed to withstand any shifting of land.

Before occupancy, the land surrounding the building will be leveled and graded and landscape artists employed in arranging shrubbery and plotting the contour of the surrounding grounds.

School officials expect to install equipment and have the building ready for opening of school September 1, 1937.

Clarion-Ledger, March 14, 1937

More Bailey?

Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson, Modernism, New Deal


19 replies

  1. thanks for this interesting article–i remember being very impressed with the this building when i first saw it as a child in the early 1950s. and, yes, amazing and sad that the architects aren’t mentioned!

    i know that you often correct misspellings in articles that you re-publish, and, it seems to me that in the third paragraph, ‘jackson’s hugh…’ should be, ‘jackson’s huge…’.

    now, i suppose i could take the time and try to find the answers to the following questions, but i’d rather ask our gang for their comments.

    who was edward l. bailey? what is the source of the fine inscription? who was the article’s author, rex moody?


    • Thanks for catching that typo, which was mine–fixed now!


    • “Edward Latta Bailey (1872-1934). Bailey, a Winona native, served as superintendent of Jackson Public Schools for 32 years. A graduate of Mississippi College, he taught 10th grade at Jackson Graded School and served as an assistant professor at Millsaps College from 1894 to 1900. He was elected superintendent of Jackson Public Schools in 1900. He attended graduate schools at the University of Virginia, University of Chicago, Harvard, and New York University. MC conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws in 1926.” https://www.jackson.k12.ms.us/Page/183

      Rex Moody was a reporter and later state editor for the Clarion-ledger who joined the Army Air Corps during WWII. After the war, he worked for an ad agency in Miss. who later sent him to start their New York office. After that office folded, he began his own PR firm in New York which then did a lot of business for state agencies in Mississippi.


  2. Not sure about the asylum property stretching that far south, but it was used as a bivouac for troops headed overseas for the Spanish-American War in 1898. Probably National Guard from Mississippi and surrounding states.


    • for some reason(what could that be?), i suspected that reader carunzel would be the source for info on the bailey school questions i posed–so, thanks very much! but, does anyone know the source of that good quote?


  3. After its completion in 1937, this unusual monolithic concrete school building was praised in architectural journals for its “conservative-modern” style. Architects N. W. Overstreet and A. Hays Town designed the structure to utilize concrete almost entirely in its construction, both interior and exterior.

    The building’s chief architectural feature is the tall, tiered central tower over the entrance. The tower is flanked by heavy buttresses into which are molded two concrete plaques which depict Andrew Jackson, Thomas Hinds, and Pushmataha at the Treaty of Doak’s Stand, the meeting which resulted in the ceding of Choctaw lands, of which Hinds County was a part, to the United States.

    An educational as well as an architectural landmark, Bailey Junior High School was named for Edward Latta Bailey, superintendent of Jackson city schools, who played a major role in the early planning of this school.


    • The Junior League- Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson Landmarks. (Jackson, Mississippi: Calvin Hales Advertising, Inc., 1982)

      You should really use quotation marks and cite all your sources.


  4. Edward Latta Bailey (1872-1934)

    Edward Latta Bailey, for thirty-two years superintendent of the Jackson Public Schools, was born November 1, 1872, in Winona, Mississippi. He was one of twelve children of Captain Leonidas Bailey and Mary Catherine Diggs Bailey.

    After finishing school in Winona, Edward Latta Bailey received an appointment to Annapolis, but he was unable to accept because of a serious illness resulting from typhoid fever. He attended Mississippi College, where he earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1892.

    He taught the tenth grade in Jackson Graded School (Jackson Central High School) and served as an assistant professor at Millsaps College from 1894 to 1900. He was elected Superintendent of the Jackson Public Schools in 1900 where he served until his retirement in 1933, except for one school year (June, 1907-1908) when he represented Ginn and Company, Publishers.

    He attended graduate school at the University of Virginia, University of Chicago, Harvard, and New York University. As recognition for his work in education, Mississippi College conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws in 1926.

    He was a charter member of the Jackson Rotary Club, and at one time he held the presidency of the organization. He serviced as President of Mississippi Education Association in 1905, Secretary for the R. V. Powers Foundation, editor of Mississippi School Journal, a committeeman of the National Education Association, and chairman of the Board of Stewards of Galloway memorial Methodist Church of Jackson (1912-1913).

    He had a part in the early planning for a new junior high school, which would permit Central High School to transfer the junior high school program to a new center. The economic depression of the 1930’s and the lack of capital funds delayed construction of the new building until after his death.

    Edward Latta Bailey was married to Corinne Deupree and was the father of one daughter, Catherine (Mrs. Alton Ellick). He died at his home, 1439 North State Street, December 2, 1934, and was buried in the Cedarlawn Cemetery, Jackson, Mississippi.


    • Information about Edward Latta Bailey (1872-1934): Source: “A History of the Public Schools in Jackson, Mississippi 1832-1972 Author: William Moore Dalehite


  5. re-reading the quote, the source didn’t like to use commas, apparently….! or, maybe it was difficult to make commas on the plaque?


  6. E L Malvaney – if you are interested, here is another spelling typo: There are twnety-one class rooms
    Also classrooms is one word.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. my version, ‘that individual is best educated whose knowledge is broadest, whose understanding is deepest, and whose services noblest. if society would justify its investment in education, let it do so in these things’. i like it, although i find ‘…services noblest…’ awkward.

    i tried to find the source on the net, but, didn’t have hours and hours: there are many quotes under ‘education’ on wiki for someone who has the time to look.

    presumably, it must have been a quote made before 1937!


    • Another Clarion ledger article from May 15, 1994, states that the source of the quotation is unknown. I’m guessing that it is a strangely translated quotation, likely from Latin, but perhaps E.L. Bailey himself said or wrote it.


  8. this last comment is very interesting! obviously, we on misspreservation are not the only ones, ‘then and now’, to wonder about this quotation! and, yes, it would appropriate if the quotation was from something mr bailey said or wrote. and, now, our comments–and, questions– about this quotation are on the net, so, maybe somewhere down the road, there will be more information!


  9. Said this before when there was a previous article about this school, but it was an awesome place to go to school in the late 60’s. The interior was impressive and certainly unique, at least for this area, even for a teenager with no real appreciation of such things. It was just “cool” and “everyone” wanted to go there. Unfortunately I didn’t get to graduate from there because my 9th grade year was the year the shut everything down for a month at Christmas to figure out how to comply with the Federal mandate for REAL integration; so I went to a classless modern, and formerly all African American, school the 2nd half of that year. At least I got to have half a year with one class in the only classroom in the tower!


  10. The Black Prairie land of North East Mississippi is built on Bentonite clay topsoils, but the under-bearing is largely blue rock limestone which probably explains why there is little evidence of the kind of cracks found elsewhere.
    Here in the Prairie, cracks in the soil can be 4- 6 inches wide in the late Summer and Fall. When my father built a home in 1964, he went down to the blue rock and then filled in with large grated gravel before he poured the outer walls. Still no cracks in the brick veneer.
    I suspect that blue rock limestone is why Brooksville High School’s poured concrete structure shows no evidence of cracking walls. Construction began in 1942 but was was suspended during the war. The construction was completed in 1944. Bilbo’s photo archives contains six photos of the Brooksville building construction in progress. As marginal lands–pasture grazing lands– are being brought into row crop/drilled grain production with sprinkler irrigation systems in the Prairie, more “white patches” of lime rock are becoming evident. The small farmer in the Prairie is gone with the wind of corporate farming. A $42,000,000 farm irrigation project is planned for Noxubee county–partly on the 1930s oil prospector/speculator Zach Brooks Farms property.


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