Old Waveland Elementary School

Waveland School Front Entrance

National Register ID: 14000273

Area Of Significance: Education, Architecture

Architectural Classification: Early 20th Century Revival/Tudor Revival

Period Of Significance: 1931-1964

Date Listed: 6/2/2014

Location: 335 Coleman Avenue, Waveland, MS

Statement of Significance

The (old) Waveland Elementary School is locally significant under Criterion A for association with Education for its long term use as a community school.

The earliest account of a school in Waveland dates to 1855. At the invitation of Bishop Van de Velde, three Sisters of St. Joseph came from Bourges, France, to establish St. Joseph Academy in Bay St. Louis. While the facility was completed, the sisters walked four miles each day to hold classes in a building in Waveland that served as a Catholic church. However, upon completion of the building in Bay St. Louis, the Waveland school was closed.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Hancock County operated a number of small one-teacher schools. In the early 1890s, it was decided to consolidate the many small white schools into two centralized structures; one in Bay St. Louis and one in Waveland. The Waveland city hall and town school occupied a small creole cottage located near the corner of Coleman Avenue and Bourgeois Street, built in 1893.9 This served the community until 1905, when the city commissioned Julius Favre to build a "sturdy and proper edifice to house eight grades of a public school." The school had tall windows, a gallery with protective balustrade and a cupola with a bell to announce class times. Four teachers taught eight grades in the building.

In 1931, the school building became the town hall and the new school building with Tudor Revival details was completed on Coleman Avenue. The school cost $12,000 and was "equipped with modern seating, lighting and heating and has a large well lighted auditorium with a seating capacity of two hundred." The school was segregated serving only white students. Waveland's African American children attended a one-room frame school on Waveland Avenue.

The building continued to operate as the Waveland Elementary School until 1969, when it was damaged by Hurricane Camille. Although initial plans called for the repair of the building, federal funds became available to build a new modern school building, which was completed in 1972.

With the completion of the new school, the old Waveland School became the Waveland Civic Center, which used the auditorium for community theater programs. The four classrooms housed meeting rooms for various civic organizations and also served as a senior citizen's center. The building was again severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. However, after a sensitive restoration, the Waveland Civic Center in the (old) Waveland Elementary School was rededicated in May 2009.

The (old) Waveland Elementary School is locally significant under Criterion C for Association with Architecture as a local example of a public building executed in the Tudor Revival style.

The Tudor Revival developed during the late nineteenth century, one of the academic revivals popular between the 1890s and 1940. As precedent it drew "a variety of late Medieval and early Renaissance English prototypes, ranging from thatch-roofed folk cottages to grand mansions." Common Tudor elements seen on the (old) Waveland Elementary School include the crenellated parapets, decorative brick facing and corbelled entry arches.

The (old) Waveland School is the only Tudor Revival public building in Waveland. The other known Tudor Revival style buildings in Hancock County are residences, including the Bowman House in Bay St. Louis (NR, 2010) and 905 North Second Street in Bay St. Louis (NR, 2010). Throughout Mississippi, the most common type of Tudor Revival style buildings are residences. However, there are eight known Tudor Revival school buildings, most built in the 1920s. Prominent examples include the Lorena Duling School in Jackson, designed by C. H. Lindsley and completed in 1927 (NR, 2007) and the Crystal Springs High School, also designed by C. H. Lindsley and completed in 1928 (NR, 1997). The Old Gulfport High School, designed by N. W. Overstreet was completed in 1923

Architectural Description

The (old) Waveland Elementary School is located on Coleman Street, about two blocks north of the Mississippi Sound and one-half block south of the east-west Louisville & Nashville Railroad in Waveland, Hancock County, Mississippi. Coleman Avenue was formerly a small downtown center with a mix of institutional, commercial and residential structures, but was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The (old) Waveland School, located almost at sea level, was one of the only buildings south of the railroad which survived the storm and the only civic structure to survive. Since Katrina, some permanent structures have been rebuilt nearby, most notably the Hancock County Library, adjacent north of the school. The area still includes temporary buildings and unimproved lots.

The (old) Waveland Elementary school is a one-story, roughly H-shaped building with a flat roof. Exterior walls are brick masonry laid two wythes thick. The primary elevation is east. A crenellated parapet with a cast-stone cap wraps the building and obscures the flat roof behind. Two pavilions with inset Flemish-bond brick panels project from the façade, flanking the entry bay. The door is centered and flanked by two 12/12 double-hung sash windows. The double-leaf glazed 18-light doors are inset in a corbelled arch and have a multi-light half-round transom. A cast-stone panel above the entrance is engraved with the words "Waveland School."

The north elevation has a corbelled arched entry, slightly offset to the east, housing double-leaf 18-light doors with 7/7 transoms. There are five 12/12 double hung windows to the east and eight 12/12 double-hung windows to the west. The west windows are grouped into four windows separated by a smaller 4/4 window. The south elevation is similar. However, to the west of the corbelled arch, there are paired windows and double-leaf 18-light doors leading to the assembly room/auditorium.

The interior is composed of four classrooms, a small auditorium and cafeteria space, and a kitchen apparently added at the rear. The floorplan does not conform to standardized school plans of the period, all of which placed classroom windows on east and west elevations, not north and south as seen here. Upon entering the main (E) door, a short hallway transects a long north-south hallway. Two offices flank the short hallway. Two classrooms occupy the main elevation's projecting pavilions. Restrooms are located off the north-south hall. A larger multi-purpose room created by the removal of a partition wall between two original classrooms is set in the northwest quadrant of the building. An assembly room with a stage is set in the southwest corner, with a kitchen space opening to the west. The auditorium ceiling is ornamental pressed metal. Interior finishes throughout include hardwood floors, bead board wainscot and drywall walls and ceilings.

After the school closed in 1972, and the building converted to a civic center, a cross gabled roof was placed atop the building (filling in the castellations with concrete) and the windows replaced with aluminum sash. These windows were themselves replaced in a 2005 renovation of the building completed mere days before Hurricane Katrina, but the roof remained.

The (old) Waveland Elementary School was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm surge at Waveland rose above 25 feet and reached the roof of Waveland School. Its force completely washed away all other structures south of the tracks on Coleman Avenue, and partially collapsed the southeast pavilion of the school building. Inside, damage was mostly limited to water damage, with the plaster walls and ceilings holding up well. The new third-generation windows were battered and unsalvageable. The cross-gabled roof was twisted and half blown away and was also unsalvageable.

A thoughtful restoration was completed in 2009 strictly following the Secretary of the Interior's Standards. Many of the original bricks from the collapsed pavilion were salvaged and reused. Replacement brick was chosen the match the historic brick. Interior woodwork was also salvaged and either reused, or served as the model for new moldings. The remains of the cross-gabled roof were removed and the roof line was returned to its original flat design and the castellated parapet reopened. New aluminum-clad wood windows were crafted to match original lights and muntin patterns. The front door and transom are original. The pressed metal ceiling in the auditorium, previously hidden above a dropped ceiling, was recreated from fragile pieces of corroded metal after the storm. The building envelope was strengthened by deeper foundations and the use of steel columns. As a result of the work, the building is in excellent condition. Although some materials needed to be replaced, every effort was made to restore the building to its 1930s appearance.

Additional Notes

VERBAL BOUNDARY DESCRIPTION: Lots 1 to 15 inclusive of Combel's subdivision of Lot 52 in the Town of Waveland, Mississippi.
BOUNDARY JUSTIFICATION: This is the town lot historically associated with the (old) Waveland Elementary School.

(Details and text copied from National Register nomination form)

© 2008 - 2017
Hancock County Historical Society
All rights reserved