Location Information
(for the Meridian High School old Meridian Junior College)
Name:Meridian High School ((old) Meridian Junior College)
City/County:Meridian, Lauderdale County
Architectural Information
Construction Date:1936-1937
Architectural Styles(s):Stripped Classic, Art Moderne
No. of Stories:2
Brief Description
The Meridian High School and Junior College building is a Stripped Classic-style two-story redbrick
masonry structure facing south. The E-plan school is turned with its three wings to the
front, while an original cafeteria wing projects to the rear at the center. This rear wing, after a
1952 addition, connects with the original gymnasium to the rear.


The unusual placement of the three wings on the front allows the wings to create a symmetrical
tripartite composition, with the center auditorium wing being slightly taller and predominant.
This arrangement also made the auditorium a community space with its own entrance, in contrast
to E-plan schools with their wings to the rear. The auditorium’s steel truss roof disappears behind
the wide, plan cast-concrete that surrounds the front three sides of all wings. Poured-concrete
porticos shelter three center entrances on the front, their rectangular piers and chamfered corners
suggesting classicism but in a minimal, abstract and Moderne way; two cast-concrete medallions
flank the larger auditorium portico, with the symbol of the Meridian School District in high
relief. Two brick colonnaded walkways, also carrying a concrete cornice and flat roof, connect
the two classroom wings with the auditorium.


All original 9/9 wood double-hung-sash windows have unfortunately been replaced, but the
replacement 3-light windows fill the original openings, maintaining the pattern of paired
windows on the east and west-facing walls. The auditorium entrance retains its original three sets
of 10-light double-leaf wood doors with 12-light transoms, and the classroom wing entrances,
but the classroom wing entrances have replacement steel doors and transoms have been infilled.


The east and west elevations are filled with six pairs of double windows with concrete sills, with
each classroom lit by two paired windows, constituting one bay. Side entrances are at the rear in
between the fifth and sixth bays, highlighted by pilastered surrounds with cornices and leading
into the east-west hallway in the rear wing. Tall transoms above the entrances light the stairwells
inside.


The rear elevation is framed by the rear projections of the classroom wings, with entrances
similar to the side entrances, but is dominated by the two-story former cafeteria wing, which was
extended in 1952 to connect with the original gymnasium. Along this wing’s west wall, on both
levels, a covered walkway was also added in 1952, allowing easy access between the
administration building and gymnasium—here can be seen the only original 9/9 windows to
survive the building’s multiple renovations, probably due to their protection from the elements
since 1952.


Also connecting the administration building with the former gymnasium (now a library) is a long
brick colonnade similar to those that connect the classroom wings with the auditorium. This runs
between the rear of the east classroom wing and the rear of the gymnasium building.


The interior is organized by the two north-south classroom wing hallways, which intersect with
the long east-west hallway at the rear. The classroom halls are double-loaded with classrooms on
both levels and are finished with unpainted red brick. Ductwork and other mechanical systems
run along the ceilings in the halls, and metal lockers and restrooms are confined to the east-west
hallways. Two exits from the center auditorium wing also empty into this east-west hall.


Original 5-panel wood classroom doors have mostly been replaced in a 2009 renovation (Pryor
& Morrow, architects) by slab wood doors, but 6-light wood transoms (swivel types) remain,
both above the doors and as stand-along hall transoms. Original wood cabinetry also remains in
the individual classrooms. The only significant change to floorplan is at the southeast corner of
the east classroom wing, where a former clothing lab has been subdivided into administrative
offices.


The auditorium’s exterior portico opens, via three pairs of 10-light doors, into a lobby with a tray
ceiling, replacement light fixtures (2009), and two balcony stairs, and two 1-panel double-leaf
doors that enter the auditorium proper. Here, the original wood seats were also removed in the
2009 renovation, but otherwise, the wood stage with its plain rectangular proscenium,
plasterwork ornament in the shape of a harp, the orchestra pit, globe light fixtures, and simple
metal pipe railings all remain intact. The balcony remains open, and the ceiling is finished with
acoustical panels.