Building Description Bobo Senior High School Building, Clarksdale Mississippi
The Bobo Senior High School is located just across the Sunflower River from downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi, in a residential neighborhood that developed in the 1910s and 1920s. The large three-story brick building occupies a U-shaped footprint and derives much of its external ornamentation from decorative cast concrete and three-pane metal windows. The primary facade extends along a north-south axis, forming the base of the U-shape. A north wing, much larger in scale than the south wing, houses the cafeteria and gymnasium. The south wing houses classroom space and an theater that was modified to classroom space in 1946. An open courtyard between the wings is enclosed by a two-story arcade composed of rounded arches.
Built in 1929 on a design by Meridian architect, P.J. Krouse, the school occupies part of the former Bobo plantation. In its earliest days, the Bobo family home sat on a large lot between the school building and the Sunflower River. The house was demolished, replaced by a large green space and tennis courts. The primary facade faces east and consists of three pavilions. The broad center pavilion is set back from the slightly projecting wings to the north and south. White limestone covers the first floor, while the second and third floors are clad in red brick. Most of the roof is flat, behind a short parapet wall, but the gymnasium to the north is topped by a shallow gable roof.
Centered in the main pavilion is a three-story decorated bay. A decorated cast concrete segmented arch opening shelters a double-leaf entrance door with an arched three part multi-light transom and four-light side lights. Above the arch, paired 6/6 windows are inset in cast concrete capped by a spandrel with dual carved plaques. A pair of simple three-pane metal windows on the third floor is below a brick pediment with a shallow stepped parapet rising to a point. A cartouche resembling an open book is centered in the brick pediment.
The center bay is flanked by five sets of paired three-pane windows on all three floors. The first floor windows are covered with plywood. The projecting pavilions have similar fenestration consisting of three pane windows in a 1-3-1 configuration. Second and third floor windows have concrete lintels, while a concrete band course tops the windows on the third floor. There is a stone cap across the red brick parapet.
The south facade contains many similar elements. The first floor is covered limestone. A cast concrete decorative bay, offset to the east, houses doors similar to those on the east face. Decorated spandrels separate paired three-panel windows on the second and third floors. A large bay with no openings separates the door from the east end of the building. Four sets of triple windows on all three floors are located along the face to the west. A fifth triple window is found on the second and third floors, while a single door opens into the first floor. A bay to the far west contains a single three panel window on each floor.
The west facade features two wings and a courtyard. A two-story passageway arcaded on the first floor and closed on the second floor connects the two wings. The arcade is composed of five round arches constructed of brick and trimmed with white limestone. The exterior wall of the second floor arcade lacks any openings, but there are five 4/4 windows above the arches on the courtyard side. Nine-light two panel doors open into the north wing under the arcade. The north wing, which houses the gymnasium, has four 24-light industrial type metal windows separated by brick pilasters with concrete caps. A door opens to an enclosed stair in the northeast corner of the courtyard. On the south wing, a double-door is centered on the first floor, with a single three-pane window on the second floor. The limestone continues along the wall of the first floor of the north wing and there are two twelve-light windows near the south edges of the building on the first and second floor and window over a service door near the north edge of the building.
The limestone surface continues to cover the first floor of the north facade while the second and third floors are clad in red bricks. Brick pilasters divide the windows on all floors. The windows on the first floor are covered with plywood, but there are a series of twenty-four light windows on the second and third floors. A double door is located near the west end of the building. Another double door is located near the east end under a covered arcade that connects the building with a newer school to the north.
Just west of the arcade, the Bobo family cemetery remains on the site. The Bobo family was early settlers in Clarksdale and the school is located on the family's former plantation. There are three rows of headstones marking the graves of thirteen family members. The dates on the headstones range from May 4, 1801 to March 24, 1895.
Common to all three floors is a broad corridor that runs the length of the building from north to south. The floors are tile with the walls and ceilings covered with plaster. Most of the five-panel interior wood doors are original with six-light operational transoms. There are two quarter-turn stairways, one near the center of the corridor and one near the north end.
Generally classrooms and offices are located on the east side of the corridor on all three floors with large public areas and ancillary spaces in the two rear wings. Most classroom spaces are intact, but several have been partitioned. A large cafeteria occupies most of the first floor of the north wing. A kitchen with storage and an auxiliary stairwell are located to the west. The gymnasium is located on the second floor above the cafeteria. The gym floor is flanked by raised spectator seating on the east and west. Locker rooms and rest rooms are placed under the seating. There is access to the upper level of seating on the third floor.
A secondary corridor intersects the main hall on the first floor and separates the cafeteria from a science laboratory. The laboratory includes storage and a dark room.
The south wing has a second science laboratory on the first floor. The library occupies most of the south wing on the second floor. The third floor of this wing has been partially partitioned for classroom space, but was originally the theater. The stage with decorated plaster proscenium arch and a decorative plaster cornice remain in place. Most of these changes date to 1946 when Jackson architect N.W. Overstreet oversaw a renovation of the building. This also included moving the library from the southeast corner of the second floor to its current location in the south wing. The steel windows were installed in the original openings at that time as well.
Other changes include replacement of exterior doors with steel doors and reversible partitions in the cafeteria and some classrooms. Otherwise, the interior remains intact, with original floors, wall coverings, hallways, doors and interior transoms.