Focused on Mississippi: Restoring old Hattiesburg High School

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – The finishing touches are being put on the restoration of the old Hattiesburg High School building.

Depends on the community’s mind set whether these old landmarks are saved after they’ve fallen out of use, building with interesting architecture, buildings that are a part of the character of the town, or if they are leveled and replaced with parking lots or some modern building that looks as out of place as losing a tooth feels to your tongue.

And Steve Nail adds anther element. Steve is with Intervest, the company restoring Hattiesburg High. He says the building itself deserves some credit for its perseverance.

“All these old buildings they have a personality. It’s worth saving,” said Nail. “They’ve- she’s fought hard to stay there. Just going through hurricane and fire and everything else. And so she deserves to live.”

So what do you do with an old school? Well, several things have been tried at Hattiesburg High since it was decommissioned in 1959.

Nail explained, “Since then the town has owned it. They actually had a flea market that ran out of here. I know at one time University of Southern wanted to have classrooms here. And then there was an arsonists and burned out this front half that you see. The city put in new steel structure in behind it to hold those walls up. So all that was left were those walls.”

Which means all that was left was a blank canvas upon which to build anything you wanted to build. And what is being built here? The next life for Hattiesburg High; affordable senior housing.

“It will be 74 units of independent living, complete units that are for people 55 years of age or older,” said Nail.

The upshot of it is Hattiesburg saves a landmark and gets to explain to future generations why the boys and girls had separate entrances and what practical purpose that served. And a piece of history gets to write another new chapter. Maybe even former students will come back and live here. Home, without the home work. Life does get better with age.

Plans are for the apartments at Hattiesburg High School to be open by the end of Summer 2020.

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