Thursday, July 5, 2012
Catherine Hall comes down
By SUE WATSON
A very large crew is wrapping up removal of brick from Catherine Hall, built in 1905 on the Mississippi Industrial College campus.
Robert Jackson, brick mason who is in charge of demolition and recovery of brick, said the structure had two layers of brick in its envelope. The exterior layer is hard (fired) brick made in Oxford, while the inside soft (unfired) brick was not marked.
Jackson said he expects to recover 80,000 bricks from the structure.
The cornerstone has been recovered and indicates the name of the building and the date it was built. Inside a hollow square of the granite-like cornerstone, Jackson found first rubble and dried insect casings. But deeper down he found a book that would have been used in religious services. When he opened the book, which was likely placed as a time capsule to be discovered when the structure was torn down, a passage entitled “The Lord’s Supper” was found and the page indicated Chapter 12.
Jackson said the brickwork is all done in one project and is of brick-mason quality.
“When this was built, everything in here is almost the same – one project,” he said.
Other sections of brick covering concrete blocks were laid by Jackson in 1980, he said.
Jackson said the most impressive structure on the campus, in his opinion, is Washington Hall.
“There is more art in the architecture in that building than in any other building," he said.
Washington Hall sits between Catherine Hall and Carnegie Hall.
The buildings and the college are an historic landmark. The property belongs to Rust College, which is opposite the MI campus on North Memphis Street in Holly Springs.
There are five historic buildings built about 200 feet back from Memphis Street – all having similar architectural styles. Physical characteristics of four of the buildings – Catherine Hall, Washington Hall, Carnegie Hall and Hammond Hall – are markedly similar. These four buildings were designed by Heavener and McGhee of Jackson, Tenn. Their architecture is early 20th century Jacobean and Colonial Revival.
Carnegie Auditorium, built by McKissick and McKissick of Nashville, was built with a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation.
Catherine Hall was a two-and-a-half-story dormitory with a stamped-metal roof. The facade is accented by prominent gable-roof pavilions with curvilinear parapet walls. The construction is mostly Jacobean Revival – built in 1905-06.
Washington Hall is a two-and-a-half-story brick classroom and administration building with a stamped-metal roof. The facade is accented by projecting gable-roof pavilions with parapets.
The college was founded by the Mississippi CME Church. The curriculum was developed to educate teachers and to train for industrial trades, arts and sciences and business management.
Catherine Hall was built at a cost of $35,000.
Carnegie Auditorium contained a basement-level dining room. Its construction is Colonial Revival (1923).
Hammond Hall is a two-and-half-story, hip-roof brick dormitory with stamp-metal tile roof. Its design is Jacobean Revival (1907).
The shortened descriptions above were obtained from the National Register of Historic Places Inventory – nomination form filed October 3, 1979.
Rust College President David Beckley said the college is trying to find partners – individual, city, county, state and federal – to restore Carnegie Hall and Washington Hall, the two remaining buildings of historic significance.
He said Rust College attempted to acquire the MI College property in the early 1980s but was unable to do so.
“Had we been able to acquire the property then, it would not have deteriorated after they closed and it would not be in the condition it is today,” Beckley said.
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