Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Old Wesson Public School: One of the 101 Mississippi places to see

After finishing up in Fayette, I headed on the back roads over to Wesson to locate the old school building.  I had intended to find the Poplar Hill School near Fayette, but my lack of clear directions did not bode well for the navigation system and I was spending way too much time with a 5 hour drive ahead of me.  In fact, I almost just kept going to Jackson once I reached the Interstate, but as I was this close, I forced myself to just chill out and make the trip on to Wesson.
 The building is currently under renovation and will house the St. Ambrose Leadership College--a residential college honors program that will offer 20-30 scholarships to the most outstanding male graduates in Mississippi (Mississippi Heritage Trust; Preservation in Mississippi).
 The school was first erected in 1889, destroyed by fire in 1890, and rebuilt in 1893.  It is in the same Romanesque style as the old Mississippi Mills and it is speculated that they both may have been designed by the same architect (MDAH, Mississippi Heritage Trust).  It is one of three remaining public buildings associated with Wesson's development through its textile industry.
 Wesson was founded during the Civil War by Col. James Madison Wesson (MS GenWeb Project).  He built the Mississippi Manufacturing company to produce "quality cotton fabric."  The mills were sold in 1871 and renamed Mississippi Mills.  The mills installed light bulbs the year after Edison perfected the invention and passengers on the evening train enjoyed the "marvelous lights" as they passed through Wesson.  Wesson apparently holds the honor of being the first town in the area to have electricity.  The mills were dismantled and sold for scrap during World War I, after falling into receivership and finally closed.
 The details of the building are quite striking to me.  There was renovation work going on the day of my visit, which while interfering with my picture-taking, was interesting to see taking shape.

 I have always loved stairways and steps in about any form or fashion.  Check out this school photo taken on these steps in its early years!
Soon, students will be walking up those steps again, and walking through these rooms again.


Unknown said...

On what date in 1890 did the school burn? My great-grandparents, Charles and Molly (Cobb) Patenotte lost two young daughters to fire on October 30 and 31, 1890. I've never known the details, but now I wonder if it could have been in that school......

Suzassippi said...

According to the Clarion-Ledger, 9 Dec 1890, the Wesson School burned December 8.