Marshall County Courthouse

Architect Fletcher Sloan designed the Italianate, Colonial Revival styled courthouse in Holly Springs, and Spires Boling built it.  Sloan went on to become the assistant state architect for Mississippi in 1872.  The design resembles the Lafayette County courthouse in Oxford (MDAH Historic Database Inventory).

While researching the history of the courthouse building, I chanced across some history related to the courthouse role: the place where one registered to vote.  Larry Rubin’s A Walk in Holly Springs: 1964:

It was Saturday and I was walking to County Courthouse square. Most days, I wouldn’t chance going alone; I’d stick with the regular, big-for-here, Freedom Marches to the courthouse because they provide at least minimal protection. Of course, the people who take part are pretty brave in the first place; brave enough to go into the building to try to register to vote.

The volunteers from the north often received press, blaming them as “outside agitators, and that without them, there would have been no trouble.

But focusing on the out-of-state volunteers — their numbers and who they are — can give the false impression that they are the central totality of Freedom Summer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is Black Mississippians — the local activists who provide leadership and guidance, the youth who canvas and help teach in Freedom Schools, the Freedom School students, the Citizenship School teachers, the families who feed and house outside volunteers, the people who register FDP voters in their homes and shops and churches, the men who guard the Freedom Houses at night, the people who drive workers around the county, the ministers and deacons who open their churches, and of course the courageous men and women who risk their lives and livlihood by trying to register to vote at the court house — it is they who are the heart and soul of Freedom Summer. And they number in the many, many thousands, far more than the northerners.

And for the volunteers in orientation:

Don’t come to Mississippi this summer to save the Mississippi Negro. Only come if you understand, really understand, that his freedom and yours are one. … Maybe we’re not going to get many people registered this summer. Maybe, even, we’re not going to get very many people into Freedom Schools. Maybe all we’re going to do is live through this summer. In Mississippi, that will be so much! — Bob Moses.

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