|Mississippi Industrial College's Carnegie Hall and (left) Washington Hall.|
Ever since I lived in Holly Springs, Miss. In the 1970s I’ve been fascinated by the fading beauty of Mississippi Industrial College. When I passed by last week, near dark, two things immediately caught my eye.
Catherine Hall, one of the front campus residence halls, had been taken down. According to Rust College spokesman Adrienne Phillips, “It was unsafe, and we were afraid it would collapse.” Rust College purchased the property in 2008.
|Buzzards look down from the roof of Washington Hall.|
The second attention getter was that the rooflines of the two remaining prominent buildings were lined with vultures! Around here we call them buzzards. I kicked myself for not having a camera, so I returned about the same time of day this week, and there they were, looking down with arrogance as I walked quietly around the grounds of the vacant college.
|A group of black vultures gather around Washington's chimney.|
In case you aren’t familiar with Mississippi Industrial College (MIC), it is located on the West side of Highway 7, across the road from Rust College. It was established in 1905 as a private college for African American students. It closed in 1982 after enrollment declined with the integration of local community colleges in the late 1960s.
The beauty of those original structures is magnificent. Carnegie Hall, the main auditorium and gathering place, was built in 1923 with funding from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation. Carnegie, as well as Washington Hall which served as the administration building, were examples of Jacobean and Colonial Revival influence.
“We are trying to secure resources so we can shore up these structures until we can find the funding to restore them,” said Phillips.
We need to hurry. Maybe those buzzards are our warning. The buildings are full of decay, broken windows, boarded doors, a belfry that is open to the sky, trees growing from inside the structure and escaping through a window.
|Turkey vultures on their perch.|