Abandoned school in Mississippi

Vaiden High School, Vaiden Mississippi
Date added: January 11, 2023 Categories:
Auditorium, Facing north (2009)

The history of the Vaiden School System began in the mid-1800s when Dr. Vaiden built a one-room school east of the Vaiden Cemetery for the education of white children.

In 1875, Dr. and Mrs. Vaiden built a two-story brick school, the "Vaiden Male and Female Academy," on Lot 158 in Vaiden. A few years later, in 1879, Dr. Vaiden deeded the one-room schoolhouse to the African-American citizens, and by 1881, the Rosenwald Foundation had enlarged the school to three rooms.

The white children continued in the two-storied brick "Vaiden Male and Female Academy" building until the late thirties when the Town of Vaiden decided it was time for a new school. Mr. Rush Weir, who lived just west of the present school building, left $25,000 to the building of the school and his executors sold his land to the Town for $1,000 in 1939. The Academy building was removed in 1946 to make way for a gymnasium for the new school building.

With land and $25,000 bequeathed to the Vaiden Separate School District by R.C. Weir, construction began on the Vaiden School in 1941, after lightning strikes damaged the existing school for white children. Just west of the school, the old Weir residence was purchased for a faculty home. However; because of the war efforts, the School District quickly ran out of money and worked stopped until the Works Progress Administration (WPA) stepped in to finish construction. It was completed in 1943 by WPA laborers. Built from concrete mixed on the property, WPA workers carried the concrete by wheelbarrows.

Workers had the school ready for occupancy for the 1943/1944 school year. After a special election held on April 11th, 1944, Vaiden Board of Aldermen voted to discontinue their separate school district. That cleared the way for the Carroll County School Board to vote on May 8th, 1944, to create and establish a consolidated school district, taking in the Vaiden Municipal Separate School District and several small county schools In July, the Carroll County School Board voted to request the Board of Supervisors to borrow $5,000 to help pay for five new school buses (at a total cost of $11,500).

Within a few years of the main building's completion, the campus added a gymnasium (1945) and a vocational building (1951). The frame gymnasium was later replaced by the current metal gym, but the vocational building remains. This pattern of development, with separate buildings for different aspects of the educational program, was typical for large consolidated schools for white students from about 1925 until the late 1950s. Some campuses came to include separate buildings for agricultural, industrial, and homemaking classes. However, Vaiden's standardized plan building, the VM1-D, included space for instruction in agricultural sciences, industrial shop, and homemaking, and thus provided a thorough vocational education for both boys and girls.

The separate gymnasium was also a common feature on Mississippi's white consolidated schools beginning in the 1920s. The gymnasium reflected the Progressive-era educational concepts of educating both the mind and the body. As a Mississippi State Dept. of Education bulletin of 1928 stated: "The modern high school assumes some responsibility with the parents for the health and physical condition of the children".

The Vaiden High School was a working school from 1943 through 1999, when the J.Z. George High School was completely renovated in North Carrollton.

Building Description

The Vaiden High School is prominently located in on its own block near the center of Vaiden, Mississippi, approximately one block from Vaiden City Hall on Mulberry Street. The main school building sits on a slight rise well back from the road. Surrounding buildings are primarily residential. The main school building is a two-and-a-half-story U-plan symmetrical structure, constructed of poured monolithic concrete with a low slope roof hidden behind parapet walls. It has had no changes to the outside of the building and only very insignificant changes inside. A one-story wood-frame vocational building is located at the southeast corner of the site.

The Vaiden High School is a U-plan school building, with a one-story auditorium extending out from the bottom of the "U" and classroom wings on the "Legs," which run North and South. Each wing has two stories above ground and a third story partially below grade. The building is constructed of poured monolithic concrete, mixed on site. Parapet walls surround the low-sloping roof. Windows throughout are aluminum-frame. The U-plan school building was a response to larger consolidated school populations beginning in the late 1920s, with the largest number of this plan being built from 1934 to 1941. The essential form consists of an auditorium in the middle of and connecting two classroom wings. Often, as with Vaiden School, the auditorium projects forward with its own entrance, serving not only as an educational gathering place but also as a community center.

The primary facade faces south. The formal entrance to the Auditorium is dramatic: a deep setback porch graced with four large square columns spaced across the front. Two pairs of original entrance doorways are centered inside the inset porch and lead directly into the auditorium. The three-light wood doors have pedimented stucco surrounds that project out from the wall plane. A transom consisting of two horizontal lights is located above each set of doors. The door thresholds are one riser height above the porch level. A broad concrete stairway extends the full width of the front elevation. The stair has a total of 5 risers and no railings. Unadorned circular openings occur in the concrete wall on each side of the recessed porch. The exterior walls on each side of the auditorium are unadorned except for three eight-light horizontal windows opening into the auditorium. The north and south walls of the Auditorium have three tall eight-light windows. There are single-leaf exit doors shaded by concrete canopies and double two-light windows.

The two-story classroom wings extending back from each side of the auditorium are generally mirror images of each other except that the east wing is approximately 20 feet longer than the west wing. The walls are smooth with no ornamentation. The upper floor of each wing opens at grade level on the south (front) side with a raised concrete platform and walkway that leads to the side door from the auditorium. Broad steps from the front of the platform connect to a concrete sidewalk system. The south elevation of each wing consists of a pair of single light wood doors with transoms above and a section of glass block aligned with the transom above the doors and located between the pair of doors and the corner of the auditorium. A protruding concrete canopy extends over the doors and the glass blocks.

The east and west exterior walls of the two wings feature large paired six-light horizontal windows. A single window is located at each end of the elevation with paired windows in all other locations. The rear elevations of the two wings are very simple with a paired set of six-light windows in the center on each floor lighting the hallways.

Small two-light windows occur at the basement level of both wings and are enclosed with plywood on the west wing. A single-story connector is located behind the Auditorium and between the two wings. A concrete chimney which likely has been shortened extends out of this structure, and the boy's/men's restroom is located inside. The concrete walls are unadorned with windows and doors matching the character of the remaining structure.

The one-story auditorium is set on street level. The raised stage is set on the north wall of the auditorium with doors and short halls on either side of the stage opening into a broad east-west hall. The auditorium and stage floors are of hardwood. The interior walls are plaster and the ceiling is flush tongue and groove wood. Three large windows are symmetrically aligned on each side (east and west sides) of the auditorium. Equipped with several hundred opera seats, and a full stage, the auditorium is magnificent. The aluminum casement windows throughout the building are still functional. On each side of the stage, a hallway area connects the auditorium with the east and west classroom wings.

The interior of the two-story wings is simple and unadorned. The post and beam structure is clearly visible throughout both wings. The floors are concrete typically covered with non-original vinyl tile. The walls and ceilings are plaster with the only trim being a simple baseboard at many of the floor/wall joints, and simple casing at the doors, transom windows, and chalkboards. The majority of the original two-panel wood doors remain as do the large two-light horizontal transoms above most doors. Similar transoms are regularly spaced throughout the hallways to provide air ventilation to the classrooms and light to the hallway.

The north and south wings consist of two main floor levels each with a center hallway running the full length of each wing with classrooms and ancillary spaces on each side. There are double doors on the front (south) of each leg of the building. These doors open into the intersection with an east-west hall that runs behind the Auditorium. The east-west hall has windows along the north overlooking the rear campus and the roof of the boys' restroom. Short halls open to the auditorium on the south side.

The first room on the right side of the western north-south hall is a teachers' lounge and next to this room going north is a stairwell leading down to the next level. Classrooms line both sides of the rest of the hall. At the end of the hall is another stairwell leading down. Large paired six-light windows at the very end of the hall overlook the rear (north) campus. Windows are on the north, east, and west sides of the building.

On the right side of the eastern north-south hall are two small offices for the principal and staff. There is a stairwell leading down across the hall from the offices. The rest of this hall is lined with classrooms with a stairwell at the northeast corner, and windows similar to those on the west wing overlooking the rear campus.

The lower level is very similar to the first floor minus the auditorium. This floor is built into the side of the hill on its south end. The east-west hall has two wood doors on the north side that open to the outside on either side of a square flat-roofed section which is attached only to the north wall of the hall and houses the boys' restroom. The restroom can only be entered from the outside on the east side. The first room on the right of the western north-south hall is a girls' restroom. The rest of the hall is lined with classrooms and ends with the north-looking windows and a stairwell on the left. The eastern north-south hall is lined with classrooms, the north-looking windows and the stairwell on the right.

The third and final level is reached by a stairwell from the eastern north-south hall. On this level is a short hall with two doors: one leading outside to the east part of the building and the other leading to a very large cafeteria. The stairs from the western side of the north-south hall lead down to a room that is completely underground. It was at one time designated an Atomic Fallout Shelter. Later it was used for storage. There is also an outside entrance that leads down into the room.

A one-story wood frame agricultural building, constructed in 1951, is located at the southeast corner of the site. The building, built to a standardized plan distributed by the State Dept. of Education, consists of a classroom area with conventional foundation containing three classrooms and storage and a larger area with concrete slab on grade flooring containing a large shop, office, locker room/paint room, and bathrooms.

The building features a hipped roof with exposed rafter ends. The main entrance from the high school and each classroom has an exterior door with a small concrete porch covered by a front-facing gable roof supported by two square wooden posts at the outer corners of the porch. Exterior doors typically consist of a nine-light upper glazed area and two raised wood panels below. Original hardware remains. Exterior 9/9 wooden windows have been replaced with horizontal paned aluminum windows. Interior 8/8 wooden windows remain between several rooms.

The shop area consists of a large open space with exposed structure accessed by garage doors on the south and east sides. The roof structure in the shop area is supported by a large wooden truss running east/west down the center of the room supported by large square wood columns. While the exterior wall structure is exposed, the interior wood frame partitions are sheathed with horizontal flush wood boards and the ceiling is covered with 4x8 plywood sheets, The classroom area has wood flooring covered with non-original vinyl tile flooring. The walls are sheathed with vertical v-groove pine wainscoting with plaster above. The ceilings consist of original or early surface-mounted acoustic panels over flush wood boards covered by a suspended acoustic tile system.

The gymnasium, built c. 1965, is a metal frame building. A one-story wing with a gable roof faces east. The front wall has brick veneer while the gable front is metal. A pair of double-leaf doors with sidelights and transoms allow access. A cantilevered canopy protects the entrance. To the west of the one-story wing is the taller gymnasium space with metal walls and a gable roof. The band hall, built c. 1965, is adjacent to the gymnasium. It is a metal-frame building with brick veneer and a flat roof. Two single-leaf doors under a metal canopy allow access. The cafeteria, built c. 1970, is a one-story frame building clad in metal sheets with a flat roof. Double leaf doors with a small window in each provide access. Two pairs of 1/1 metal frame windows are located to the left. The doors and windows are all under a flat metal canopy supported by metal posts. A covered walkway connects the cafeteria to the main building.