Mansion, The (Robert O. Wilder Building)
| Click on image titles for larger views. || |
Built as a plantation home for John Boddie and his fiancé, the significance of the Mansion encompasses more than its value as an example of antebellum Italianate architecture in Mississippi and its association with the cotton culture of the Old South. Perched on the highest point of what was once a 2000-acre cotton plantation, the slave owner's house became the nucleus for one of the first schools established to educate and train freed slaves. In 1869, this building, constructed by slave labor, once standing as an all-too-familiar symbol of the oppression and cruelty of slavery, began to serve as a center of education and hope for those who were formerly enslaved. The Mansion was then the only significant building and contained the dormitory and classrooms.
The Mansion is a two-story wood-frame Italianate structure with low gabled roofs, bracketed cornices and a central belvedere. It is presently undergoing the first phase of a major restoration. This phase includes a major structural stabilization and exterior restoration. The second phase, when funded, will include the complete restoration of the exterior and interior of the building.