Photo by Sue Watson
Kenny Brown, far right, provides musical entertainment at the Wrecking Ball in Holly Springs. With him are George Seldon and J.J. Winburn. Group members donated their talents to the event.

Photos by Sue Watson
A silent auction is part of The Wrecking Ball each year to raise money for Chalmers Institute restoration. All items were donated by the community. From left are Gordon and Janet Bland from Pontotoc, Jane Heineke, her brother Jay Etcheson of Illinois, and Tom Heineke.

Chelius Carter introduces Carolyn Brown, author of “The Artist’s Sketch: A Biography of Painter Kate Freeman Clark.”

Annual fund-raiser boosts Chalmers

Friends of Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs and guests recently enjoyed the seventh Wrecking Ball at historic Chalmers Institute in Holly Springs.

The Wrecking Ball is a fund-raiser that helps with 20 percent matching funds for state grants. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has funded three phases of restoration so far.

The project was funded in 2005. So far, grants have been awarded to stabilize the brick on the west wall (2009), repair the first and second floors and to replace the roof.

Almost every penny raised for this project is put into the restoration, said Chelius Carter, who with W.O. Fitch, formed Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs to purchase the property. The duo were later joined by Holly Springs alderman Tim Liddy in helping promote the funding for the restoration of Chalmers Institute.

Many people attend the music and arts event almost every year, including many out-of-town guests.

The organization has no paid staff and no budget. Every cent goes directly to promote and fund the preservation of the old school house.

Chalmers was built in 1837 as Holly Springs Literary Institute – in essence, a school house. In 1839, the community founders petitioned the Legislature to let the institute become the first university in the state. Permission was granted and the school was called the University of Holly Springs.

In 1877, the property was purchased by the Presbyterians.

The project is run by volunteers, and with the help of local banks who are corporate sponsors. Marshall County maintains the grounds and prepares it for the Wrecking Ball. The City of Holly Springs donated the sewer and water hookups and now there are functional bathrooms on both floors.

Pam Zelman and Virginia Anderson decorated the tables.

Pam Zelman and Sara Davis Brown have been appointed as new board members of PMCHS. Zelman is also serving as president of the Holly Springs Tourism board and David Zelman is serving on the Holly Springs Historic Preservation Commission.

Phillip Knecht is the new secretary and Steve Woodgate is the new treasurer of PMCHS.

Author Carolyn Brown participated in the seventh Wrecking Ball and read from her biography of Kate Freeman Clark.

“Holly Springs has been warm and welcoming to me,” Brown said. “The Bank of Holly Springs was our sponsor. This is the first time ever that Kate Freeman Clark’s Art has been photographed and all in color.”

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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