Mississippi Industrial College Historic District

Holly Springs City, Marshall County, MS

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The Mississippi Industrial College Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [‡]


The Mississippi Industrial College Historic District consists of five historic buildings prominently situated on a north-south axis approximately two hundred feet west of North Memphis Street, across the street from the campus of Rust College. [Note: In 2008, Rust College acquired the Mississippi Industrial College property.] The architectural integrity of the Mississippi Industrial College Historic District remains intact, all new campus construction after 1950 having occurred west and south of the district and having been limited to low-rise one- and two-story brick structures. With the exception of Davis Hall (See No. 5 below), the buildings share a remarkable number of physical characteristics such as scale and proportion, materials and decoration, and overall design quality. The visual impression of the ensemble is especially striking because of the absence of incompatible intrusions in the district.

The remarkable cohesiveness in the design and construction details of the ensemble is especially apparent in Catherine Hall (No. 1), Washington Hall (No. 2), Carnegie Hall (No. 3), and Hammond Hall (No. 4). Catherine, Washington, and Hammond halls, the earliest campus buildings, were designed by the firm of Heavener and McGhee, of Jackson, Tennessee. They share the early twentieth century Jacobean and Colonial Revival design influence. The Revival mode was expressed in a more monumental way in 1923 with the construction of the Carnegie Auditorium, designed by the McKissick and McKissick firm of Nashville, and funded through a matching grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation (Edgar E. Rankin, former president of Mississippi Industrial College, interviewed by Jack A. Gold, architectural historian with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, at Holly Springs, Mississippi, July 10, 1979). Davis Hall (No. 5), constructed northeast of Hammond Hall, lacks the design quality of the other four structures. The adaptive use of the building as a multi-learning center, however, should enhance its aesthetic and functional value.

The long-term benign neglect of the subject buildings is being reversed through a campus rehabilitation program planned by Ledbetter Associates, of Corinth, Mississippi Funding sources for the campus-wide rehabilitation will include the Departments of Energy, Health, Education and Welfare, and Housing and Urban Development, Labor (pursuant to the Comprehensive Employment Training Act), the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service of the Department of the Interior.

Buildings in the Mississippi Industrial College Historic District

1. Catherine Hall. Two-and-a-half-story twelve-by-five-bay brick dormitory building with a stamped-metal tile roof. Facade is accentuated by two projecting gable-roof pavilions with curvilinear parapet walls articulated by prominent coping and knobbed finials. The pavilions are connected by a single-story free-standing frame portico featuring Roman Doric columns and an entablature. The three central bays of the facade are accentuated by paired windows on the second floor and three pedimented dormers between the pavilions. The side elevations have paired gable ends with curvilinear parapets. Of major architectural significance; Jacobean Revival; 1905-6.

2. Washington Hall. Two-and-a-half-story seventeen-by-three-bay T-plan brick classroom and administration building with a stamped-metal tile roof. Facade is accentuated by two projecting gable-roof pavilions with parapet walls. A free-standing frame portico is situated between the pavilions with Roman Doric columns and an entablature supporting a jig-sawn balustrade. Three segmental-arch dormers are set between the pavilions. Of major architectural significance; Colonial Revival; 1910.

3. Carnegie Auditorium. Two-and-a-half-story brick auditorium built on the raised basement plan (basement-level dining room). Three-by-two-bay gable-roof classroom wings on north and south (side) elevations have pantiled roofs, modillioned roof cornices, and circular-arch fenestration. The monumental central section features a shallow two-story entrance portico of the Roman Doric order applied to the facade; the whole is surmounted by a raised and pedimented roof form with a fanlight centered above the three entrance doors. Of major architectural significance; Colonial Revival; 1923.

4. Hammond Hall. Two-and-a-half-story hip-roof brick dormitory with a stamped-metal tile roof. Gabled pavilion centered on the facade is accentuated by its curvilinear parapet and single-story free-standing portico. Of major architectural significance; Jacobean Revival; 1907.

5. Davis Hall. Three-story cinder-block gymnasium with brick facing on the (south) facade of the flat-roof structure. Casement window bays emphasized on facade by simple square buttresses. Stepped parapet along roofline on the facade. Of contributing architectural significance; Moderne; 1950.


Mississippi Industrial College, established in 1905 as an educational institution for blacks, has important associational significance for black history in Mississippi. The campus, of which all pivotal structures constructed during its growth period from 1905 to 1926 survive, displays a high degree of architectural significance representative of the Revival influence in American educational buildings as well as Beaux Arts planning principles popular during the early twentieth century.

The Mississippi Industrial College was founded by the Mississippi Conference of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, under the leadership of Bishop Elias Cottrell (1855-1937), a prominent theologian in the region. The educational mission of the school was grounded in theological, vocational-technical, and musical training for black youth from preschool through college age. Over the years the curriculum was revised, with emphasis placed on college-level teacher training, arts and sciences, and business management. To alleviate the teacher shortage during World War II, the college engaged in an innovative educational outreach program known as the Rural School Project, in which students in education earned college credit by spending one month living and teaching in a rural community (Charles H. Wilson, Education for Negroes in Miss. Since 1910 [Boston: Meador Publishing Company, 1947], p.516).

The development of a college campus on this site may be traced to an announcement by Bishop Cottrell in 1903 of the donation of one hundred twenty acres of property to the school from the citizens of Holly Springs (Minutes Books, Mississippi Industrial College, vol.1, p.4). There is also record of the college Board of Trustees taking a drive "to view the grounds and buildings" (Minutes Books, p.4), which substantiates the local claim that in 1905 at least one substantial antebellum brick residence was incorporated into the construction of Catherine Hall. In April, 1905, board members approved an expenditure of $10,000 "to repair the old building," and during the same year voted to erect Catherine Hall at a cost of $35,000 (Minutes Books, p.34). The striking Greek Revival frontispiece with side lights and transom trimmed with guilloche is the only visual evidence of the earlier structure in Catherine Hall.

The locational significance of the Mississippi Industrial College Historic District is enhanced by its contiguity to the east with Rust College (a more-prosperous black educational institution founded in 1866), and by its prominent linear site plan near the northern gateway into the city of Holly Springs. The linear arrangement of the four earliest buildings reflects the formalist influence of Beaux Arts planning principles popularized during the early part of the twentieth century. Viewed in the context of minority-related educational facilities in Mississippi the architectural significance of the campus is further increased. Carnegie Auditorium, with a seating capacity of 2,000, remains the largest auditorium space constructed by and for blacks in Mississippi.

The significance of the college in the context of black history in Mississippi is derived from the enterprising educational goals of its founders. At the time of its early development, the school was faced with the prospect of little statewide support for the growth of its programs and the maturation of the school as an institution of major stature because of its identification as a predominantly black educational facility. The situation was further complicated by the school's proximity to Rust College, the neighboring minority-controlled college which offered a wider variety of educational programs. The two schools benefited from each other's presence in Holly Springs. Several administrators at Rust College moved across the street to work for Mississippi Industrial, including the college's president, Theodore Debro. These improvements are reflected in the changing emphasis of the curriculum, from theology and industrial education to business-management and career-oriented liberal-arts programs, and shows as well the concern of the school for growth in educational development opportunities for minorities at minority-controlled institutions such as Mississippi Industrial College.


Minutes Books, Mississippi Industrial College, Holly Springs, Miss.

Rankin, Edgar E. Interviewed by Jack A. Gold, architectural historian with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, at Holly Springs, Miss,, July 10, 1979.

Wilson, Charles H. Education for Negroes in Mississippi since 1910. Boston: Meador Publishing Company, 1947.

‡ Jack A. Gold, Architectural Historian, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi Industrial College Historic District, Holly Springs, Marshall County, MS, nomination document, 1979, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

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