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The campus served as the Union Army encampment grounds during the sixty-eight day seize of Holly Springs, Mississippi. The campus is reportedly to have been used as a slave auction site prior to the Civil War. The Oakview Mansion, which was recently renovated, according to historians served as the slave auction office. The cedar tree, which adjoins the Oakview Mansion, was commemorated as a Millennium Tree by former First Lady/Hillary Clinton.
In 1905 an annex to the facility was built and additional remodeling was completed in 1974. The building was previously used as the infirmary and office spaces. Founded in 1866, Rust is the second oldest private college in Mississippi; the oldest Methodist college in the state of Mississippi and one of the oldest of five historically Black colleges founded before 1867.
The Oakview Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In June 1998, a comprehensive assessment was conducted by the National Park Service to determine the extent of interior and exterior renovation/restoration needs. A grant was obtained from the Department of Interior in 2001 and all exterior renovation recommendations by the National Park Service were completed in 2002. The interior work recommended in the study has not been completed.