The Jourdan River School
- by Rebecca Orfila, photos courtesy MHT
Back in the woods, a short walk from Kiln, a relic of the community’s past sat virtually forgotten until loggers opened a copse of trees in 2013. Weather and time has taken a toll on an old wooden building, but the discovery has revived memories of hard-working teachers and school children.
The Jourdan River School (formerly the Kiln Colored School) was built in 1929 to educate black students during the pre-equalization period in Mississippi. When the school was eventually closed, students were relocated to other schools. Over time, the formerly active center of education and community was overwhelmed by trees and other vegetation.
As noted by MHT Executive Director Lolly Barnes, “The goal of the ‘10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi’ program is to raise awareness about the many threats facing our rich architectural heritage. By educating the public about the history of the Jourdan River School, we hope to find the resources to save this special place.”
Danin Benoit (firstname.lastname@example.org), a representative of Community Wakeup and Men and Women of God Ministry, the nominators of the school to the Most Endangered list, explained that school alumni Earllean Thompson Washington contacted him to advocate saving the old structure. The next step for the Jourdan River School is fundraising.
Backed by the enthusiasm of former students, Ruby V. Patterson and Velma Frederick, plus several local groups and individuals, Benoit hopes the school will be brought “back to light” and serve as a community center for the Kiln area.