Founded in 1852 in Clinton, MS, The Central Female Institute was founded to educate young ladies.
This photo, taken around 1890, shows a chaperone leading a group of students to church on Sunday morning.
Both the men's college in town (Mississippi College) and The Central Female Institute were both rooted in the Southern Baptist Denomination and going to church was not an option.
Chaperone escorts were required for the young ladies whenever they left campus for whatever reason.
The college changed names to Hillman College around 1870.
Historically, the college was the only educational institution in the state of Mississippi that remained open during the civil war years. It's interesting to also note that Clinton was involved in the actions surrounding Grant's Vicksburg campaign. There were no recorded instances of the soldiers harming any of the girls on campus but it had to be a delicate situation.
This colorized photograph shows two of the dormitories on campus. These structures stood on the campus for years until they accidentally caught on fire and burned in the 1950's.
The Hillman College crest was the pride of many alumni.
To be a female and receive a college education in the 19th century was not common but looked upon as a great accomplishment.
Music and the Arts were heavily emphasized.
Here's a dress worn by a college alumni (courtesy of the Clinton Visitor's Center).
Central Female Institute (Hillman College) began it's decline when most of the other women's colleges across the country began to see decreased enrollments. They closed their doors in 1942 and merged with Mississippi College, making it a co-educational Baptist College.
The now "ghost campus" was purchased by the city and turned into a park.
Recently, a developer bought the property and will be turning it into a mixed use development. The land, as you see, is now being site prepped.
The beautiful old oak and cedar trees along with a branch of the old Natchez Trace bed was all destroyed and leveled in the process.
While walking the grounds disturbed by the heavy equipment, I discovered this brick-lined tunnel leading beneath the railroad tracks that run past the old college property. Probably a drainage canal, but I'm sure it dates to the 1852 founding of the college based on design structure and brick style.
Scattered along the ground, I managed to pick up a few artifact reminders of the old campus - a porcelain door knob, marble, and medicine bottle neck.
I also found this interesting old conductor - Patent dated May 2, 1893.
The nerd that I am, I picked up broken pieces of this serving plate that had been smashed by the bulldozers and I glued the fragments back in an attempt to reconstruct the dish. It is a Homer and Laughlin Co. piece, dating no earlier than 1871 but no doubt came from the old dorm kitchen.
What stories it could only tell.
It is good to see economic development in your downtown community and see progress spring up with new vigor.
But it is also sad, in a way, to see such a historical piece of ground take on new life as a modern development, losing its old charm.
I guess it's up to us to keep the history alive through photos, blogs, artifacts, and signage.
Maybe, just maybe, this new generation will see value in the way things were with an appreciation of the past as they dive head first into the future.
With each bulldozer push of earth...we can only hope!