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Until 1908 most Mississippi College students boarded in private homes near the campus, although a few lived in modest wooden cottages on campus. The main problem was a lack of funds for building, although some people argued that living in a wholesome family environment was better than dormitory life. Change was brought on by a growing scarcity of boarding space and by the availability of new funds. In 1906 the family of the late Capt. Z. D. Jennings contributed $20,000 for a building. With other pledges added, it was possible to build the dormitory and the attached dining hall for about $95,000, only $6,000 of which had to be borrowed.
Jennings was built around a square courtyard, or patio, with balconies on the second and third floors and the rooms on all four sides facing the patio. It was well designed and well built, and the students boasted of having single beds, indoor plumbing, steam heating, and an electric light in every room! In later years when more modern dormitories were added, Jennings was always the favorite, largely because of the social life centered on the patio. In 1918 the college provided space for a military training unit, including the addition of a roof over the patio "to provide a study hall for the army men," and this roof remained until 1925. In 1942 the college merged with Hillman College but kept the women students in the Hillman residences to make part of the main campus available for a Navy training unit. In 1945 Jennings was remodeled extensively and made into the first women's dormitory on the campus, and eventually into a place especially for freshman women. Even as it deteriorated, Jennings was a favorite with the students, and it was the reluctance that it was closed in 1981.
After sporadic repair of some areas for office space, the entire interior was restructured into a home building for the College of Arts and Sciences and four of its departments. The patio and porches are now surrounded by offices and classrooms, and the dining hall, now called Jennings Annex, has been reworked into classroom and some faculty offices. The patio, with a glass elevator and a fountain added, is again a favorite spot for receptions and various social gatherings.