Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Campus Green (historic core)

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Institution Name: Tougaloo College
Original/Historic Place Name: Boddie Plantation
Location on Campus: historic core of campus
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1869original construction around the Green Unknown
Type of Place: Landscape site
Type of landscape–
Views and vistas:
Large-scale features:
Other characteristics:
The Campus Green is characterized as a gently sloping hill enhanced by green grass, cedar and hardwood trees that are draped with hanging Spanish moss; the historic and non-historic buildings within the green are generously spaced in order not to crowd the landscape; viewing the Mansion from one point and imagining a time when slavery and Southern aristocracy ruled the day, and then looking across the green and viewing Woodworth Chapel, an icon of the hopes, dreams, courage and most of all, the spirit and faith of a people once oppressed by slavery and the lack of civil rights, is strikingly profound.
Materials: grass, variety of trees and shrubs, Spanish moss, concrete
1869-present (2007)outdoor space

Significance: architecture, culture, education, history, religion
Landmark designation:
National RegisterTougaloo College (1998)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Formerly a cotton plantation, the College campus has been in existence since 1869. The campus plan is a grouping of buildings loosely organized around a central historic core and an outer core, both of which are situated within a fairly densely wooded area.

As the College's buildings were constructed around the historic campus core, with the Mansion and Woodworth Chapel facing each other at the center of the campus lawn, the remaining buildings in the core were loosely organized around them and the cedar-lined entrance drive of the former Boddie plantation. The basic organization remains intact, preserving some landscape and spatial characteristics of the former plantation, including what may be original plant material. Historic photographs reveal a campus in which buildings stood nestled among tall oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Beneath the canopy of trees extended a continuous lawn, cleared of underbrush but still dotted with under-story trees and shrubs. Rarely do these historic documents portray a clear, full-building elevation unobscured by vegetation. Mostly, the buildings are glimpsed through the trees, characteristically creating a mysterious intimate atmosphere in the heart of the campus.

To connect the various buildings, students of the College initially constructed wooden boardwalks crossing the campus core. Lit at night by kerosene lamps hung from posts, these illuminated walkways were romantically compared to the boardwalks of Atlantic City. It was one student's task to light the lanterns in the evening, while another student was responsible for snuffing them out the following morning at set hours. Tougaloo College's use of kerosene lanterns continued well into the 1920's, when electricity eliminated the traditional operational duties of the students. Also during that time a drainage system was constructed to eliminate puddles that formed on the lawn, thus allowing the school to replace the elevated boardwalks with brick and concrete walkways. Portions of that drainage system remain today.

Three concrete buildings on campus are hard to classify. Constructed in the early 1970's, they are massive concrete structures, two of which are on concrete stilts, with little architectural style. They are part of a master plan, fortunately unsuccessful, that was to be based on a system of multi-level buildings supported by concrete piles and connected by elevated walkways.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Campbell, Clarice T., and Oscar Allan Rogers, Jr. Mississippi: The View from Tougaloo. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 1979 and 2002.

Campus Planning and Development Assessment [Tougaloo College]. National Park Service report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1989.

Dixon, John Morris. "How to Grow a Campus: 1. Tougaloo College." Architectural Forum 124 (April 1966): 56-60.

Historical Sketch of Tougaloo University: Tougaloo, Mississippi. [s.l.:] American Missionary Association, 1909.

Mayo, Amory Dwight. Industrial Education in the South. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1888.

Mississippi State Building Commission. "Physical Facilities, Institutions of Higher Learning, State of Mississippi, Public and Private Institutions." Report. 1967-1968.

"Negro." WPA Records, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, MS.

"Tougaloo College." WPA Records, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, MS.

U.S. Congress. House Committee on Natural Resources. Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Building Restoration and Preservation Act: Report Together with Dissenting Views (To Accompany H.R. 2921) (Including Cost Estimate of the Congressional Budget Office.) [Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1993.]

Wise, Deborah G. Tougaloo College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1998.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Government Offices

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