Bruce High School: A Monolithic Concrete by E. L. Malvaney

Four years ago I ventured over to Bruce to check out the 1942 monolithic concrete school attributed to Edgar Lucian Malvaney–who designed a lot of public school buildings for Mississippi during the years between 1920 and his first school–the Sunflower Agricultural High School and Junior College, and 1960 and his last school–the Cleveland Street Elementary School. E. L. Malvaney was born in 1896 and died 1970, and his architecture grew and changed along with him across the decades. He studied one year at Mississippi State University before serving in the U. S. Army in France in World War I, and subsequently studied architecture in the A. E. F. School of Architecture in Le Mans and Paris for a year before returning to Jackson, Mississippi in 1919. He began working for other architects as a draftsman prior to completion of the Special Architecture degree in 1922 from Washington University in St. Louis. [Source: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory link to Edgar Lucian Malvaney at]

Bruce High School Auditorium

Many of the buildings constructed in Mississippi during the years 1933-1942 were funded by the New Deal Administration, and in particular several hundred public schools.  Sometimes when I cannot locate verification in other ways, if I can get to the building, I search for a cornerstone or plaque or marker of some kind.  Alas, there was no confirmation in the building itself that indicated it was a New Deal building.  I did learn from locating a photograph of the front of the building in the 1957 yearbook that it did not at all look like the above photograph.  A reader commented that the front entrance of the building and a portion of the auditorium were destroyed in a fire and the auditorium and front were reconstructed in 1977.

And then…last week I ran across an item quite by accident in a 1939 newspaper that listed the project as funded by the Works Project Administration.  WPA provided $38,446 of the cost of the school, with the Bruce consolidated school contributing $22,072.  An average of 74 workers were employed for approximately twelve months.

One of the most important building projects released by the administration during recent weeks–and especially significant to Jackson in view of the Capital City’s proposed $500,000 school construction program–is a monolithic concrete structure at Bruce in Calhoun county. (WPA Authorizes 6 New Projects, Clarion-Ledger, Oct. 21, 1939, p. 3)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, sometimes I search a long time, and then like a little miracle, I find something that connects and another puzzle is solved. It was a nice little surprise not only to locate the item that enabled me to find a second newspaper article confirming the WPA sponsorship, but also confirm the architect was E. L. Malvaney–one of my favorite Mississippi architects. And there, waiting in the wings were the photographs from 2016. It was a superb day today! Thanks for stopping by to share in the “monolithic concrete news” of the day.

Update 08/26/2020: the project is now posted on the Living New Deal website.

This entry was posted in Mississippi, New Deal Administration, school buildings, Work Projects Administration and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Bruce High School: A Monolithic Concrete by E. L. Malvaney

  1. Sara says:

    I attended Bruce Schools from 1958-1971. The Elementary School was new in 1958. My older brother and cousins went to Ellard. 1958 was the first year all the smaller schools in the Bruce area went to Bruce. I donโ€™t know if this gives you more information or just trivia.


    • Suzassippi says:

      Hi, Sara, and thank you for commenting. Readers often comment about their personal experiences, which helps provide “a people’s history” of our communities. While my focus is on the buildings constructed by the New Deal Administration that had such a profound impact on people and their communities during the Great Depression, it is also nice to hear from people who lived in these communities and benefitted from those buildings. I went to school in a high school constructed by the New Deal Administration, too, and yet never knew that until a few years ago.
      The original entrance to the high school was beautiful and made such a visual impact. Do you remember it?


  2. Betty says:

    So, is this one you submitted to the LivingNewDeal? I did not see it listed on their website. I am curious as to what makes this architect one of your favorites. How exciting that you are the one to piece the puzzle together. I am sure that is what makes your investigations fun and very satisfying. My son is a Washington University graduate. He is the subject of my post this coming Friday. Forgive me for putting a teaser in your comments. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for another interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      I just submitted it today, and it usually takes a few days to a week to get them posted on the site. The longer the project goes, the more submissions, and thus, the longer it takes before one is visible.
      I appreciate the changes in E. L. Malvaney’s style through the years. His work in monolithic concrete/poured-in-place concrete was cutting edge for the time, and truly, I just really like the depression era Art Moderne style and mid-century modern. I also like Brutalist (from the French beton brut for “raw concrete”}. I am certainly not an architect, historian, or anything remotely related, but learning about these styles and Mississippi architects and their contributions has been part of my education since moving here, thanks to Preservation in Mississippi (where I was privileged to make a lot of posts) and my opportunities to learn from the real experts in architectural history here. If you are interested in more from E. L. Malvaney just check the website at There are many posts about Malvaney’s work, including a few that I did, such as the original post on the Bruce High School.
      I look forward to the post on your son!


      • Betty says:

        I am not familiar with many architects other than Frank Lloyd Wright; I have visited several of his homes. (Google says there are 4 in Mississippi). The Mississippi Preservation site is chock full of interesting info; I have followed the blog, so I can learn in mini bites. Thanks for the learning! Enjoy your day.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. peggyjoan42 says:

    Very interesting. I have no personal stories to share, but I always appreciate anything that involves history. You are a Sherlock Holmes when it comes to finding the puzzle pieces you need to complete the entire story. Thanks for sharing this information.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. janebye says:

    Fun to piece it all together! I went to the Living New Deal page to see the submission too, and then had to browse around some more. Several of the Dallas New Deal sites are near my house. Who knew! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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