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On this date's Registry, we celebrate the founding of Mary Holmes College in 1892. It was one of over 100 Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in America.
Originally named the Mary Holmes Seminary, it was the creation of the Board of Missions for Freedmen of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Located in Jackson, Mississippi, the school was dedicated to the Christian education of "Colored" girls, largely in the domestic arts. When fire destroyed the original school, it was rebuilt in West Point, Mississippi, where it is still located and where, despite two more destructive fires, it continues to seek to educate youth for worthy, purposeful lives.
Conceived and initiated through the efforts of the Reverend Mead Holmes and his daughter, Miss Mary Holmes, the school was named for Mrs. Mary Holmes, wife and mother. She had long been a tireless and devoted missionary for the Freedmen’s Mission. In 1932, the school became coeducational and also added the college department, with the primary purpose of training elementary teachers. At this time, private schools like Mary Holmes were the main sources for Black teachers in the south, and the preparation of Mary Holmes graduates had them in great demand.
By 1959, the State of Mississippi was assuming a greater responsibility for elementary and secondary education, so the high school department of Mary Holmes was dropped, leaving it free to concentrate on being a Junior College. The Board of Missions of the United Presbyterian Church, USA, still operates the school, but its stance has always been non-sectarian.
In June 1969, the State of Mississippi granted a charter, making the institution a legal entity under the name of Mary Holmes College, Inc. Since then, it has operated under its Board of Trustees.
In 2002 it lost its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and it closed its doors in March 2005. The property (which by then had expanded to 184 acres) and the school's archives returned to the Presbyterian Church. In 2010, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History approved a historical marker for the college.
Also, in 2010, the church made a deal to sell the campus with its 25 buildings to an organization named Community Counseling Services, which provides mental health and addiction counseling services. The organization renovated a number of the existing buildings, including the chapel, and has plans to turn one building into a small museum honoring the college's history and serving as a location for reunions.
Black American Colleges and Universities:
Profiles of Two-Year, Four-Year, & Professional Schools
by Levirn Hill, Pub., Gale Group, 1994