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 https://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/rpt.aspx?rpt=artisanProfile&artisanID=216)]
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.