2 Mississippi schools, synagogue, library added to National Register

A historic African American library, a Jewish synagogue and two Jackson elementary schools are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hattie Casey Elementary School and Pearl Spann Elementary Schools made the register after a recommendation from the Mississippi National Register Review Board. Casey Elementary was built as a white school in 1961 and named after longtime Jackson educator Hattie M. Casey. The school was built in response to the tremendous increase in Jackson’s population after World War II along with new suburban development in northeast Jackson. The one-story school is a local example of modernist or international style. Hattie Casey Elementary School is also an example of the cluster type of school architecture, which refers to concentrating the different functions of the school in certain parts of the building. The school is still in use.

Spann Elementary was one of three white schools built with money from a 1956 bond referendum. The one-story, cluster-designed school was completed in 1958 at the start of the school year and named after a longtime Jackson educator, Susie Pearl Spann. Pearl Spann Elementary was designed in the modernist or international style by architecture firm Overstreet, Ware, and Ware and still serves Jackson students.

Myrtle Hall Library for Negroes was the only public library for African Americans in the Mississippi Delta. In 1929, a group of Clarksdale African Americans formed a committee, raised $1,000, and lobbied the city for a library to be built near the Myrtle Hall School—one of two African American schools in the city. The city of Clarksdale set aside $2,000 to construct the one-story building. The Myrtle Hall Library was also the first home of the Delta Blues Museum.

Built in 1946, B’nai Israel Synagogue is located at the corner of Mamie Street and 12th Avenue South in Hattiesburg. Jewish immigrants first began arriving in Forrest County in the 1890s and first worshiped in the home of early Jewish settler Maurice Dreyfus. In 1900, the congregation occupied the top floor of the Odd Fellows Building in downtown. The congregation officially organized in 1915. It has been used continuously since construction by Congregation B’nai Israel.

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