Back to School! - Proposed Future Development of Mississippi Normal College, 1911

This 3 feet x 5.5 feet oversized color architectural rendering represents the plan for the Mississippi Normal College (now USM). Chattanooga architect R.H. Hunt's general design for the first buildings was accepted by the board in July 1911, and an initial group was built for the first fall term of 1912. Although this original item was acquired in 1912, a professional conservator recently treated and framed it with UV protecting glass so it could be displayed in the Cleanth Brooks Reading Room on the 3rd floor of McCain Library. An image of the rendering is also now part of the Southern Miss History digital collection. Compare this view with the current campus to find a number of remaining buildings.

Georgia native Reuben H. Hunt (1862-1938) was a noted architect of the southeast United States, having his home office in Chattanooga, Tennessee but expanding with offices in Jackson, Mississippi (where he built Galloway Church soon after Mississippi Normal College) and Dallas, Texas. He is remembered for designing scores of churches, dozens of government buildings and courthouses, and several educational and commercial buildings. Other college clients included Baylor College for Women in Belton, Texas, Ouachita Baptist College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and Daniel Baker College in Brownwood, Texas. Over thirty of his structures are on the National Register of Historic Places, including examples in Mississippi: First Methodist Church of Greenwood, Lawrence County Courthouse in Monticello, Montgomery Hall at Mississippi State University in Starkville, and the Wisteria Hotel in Winona.

For further reading, consider:
Entries for Hunt in: North Carolina North Carolina Architects & Builders: A Biographical Dictionary and Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.
Chester M. Morgan’s Treasured Past, Golden Future: The Centennial History of the University of Southern Mississippi (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010).
Gavin Edward Townsend’s R.H. Hunt: Master Architect of Chattanooga (Chattanooga: Cornerstones, Inc., 2010).

For more information on this item, contact Special Collections at 601.266.4345 or Ask-a-Librarian. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

Text by Steve Haller, Curator of Historical Manuscripts and Archives