Forgotten Landmark-Bonner Campbell Institute (Southern Christian Institute), Edwards, MS

In 1882, Southern Christian Institute purchased the plantation of Col. McKinney L. Cook and immediately began

repairing the existing buildings, which included the c. 1853 Greek Revival mansion house, a

two-story, frame, five-bay, center hall structure with hip roof and two-tiered, full-width gallery.

Within five years, a two-story classroom building, a small bam, and two two-room tenant

houses were constructed. In 1891, an addition was made to the original plantation mansion to

house a girls’ dormitory, and over the next 44 years, numerous buildings were constructed,

including dormitories, a president’s house, a teachers’ home, industrial building, and classroom

building, in addition to auxiliary buildings such as a grain house, stables, buggy shed, and

laundry building.

The campus presently includes seven buildings: the president’s house, administration/

classroom building with auditorium, an assembly hall, dormitories, cafeteria, and a multipurpose

building that was constructed in 2000. The old Cook mansion was destroyed by fire

around 1970, and all that remains is a chimney, which stands on the north end of the campus.

The existing historic resources were built by the students during the first 35 years of the 20th

century, and many reflect the Colonial Revival style that was popular during that period.

Belding Hall (1935)

Smith Hall (1915)

The first period of significance extends from 1882, when the Cook plantation was purchased

for the campus of SCI, until 1953, the year that the school held its last graduation service

before merging with Tougaloo University the following year. The second period of significance

extends from 1962 to 1963 when the property played an important role in the Civil Rights

Movement, serving as a meeting place and training center for adult voter registration education

and leadership training.

 

The property was purchased by the AME Church in 1971 and was re-opened as Bonner-

Campbell School of Religion. The campus was used as a retreat center and as a site for the

Educational Congress and District Assembly of the Eighth District of the AME Church.

Currently there is an interest by the Bonner-Campbell School of Religion to revitalize the

buildings and property in order to educate African Americans in a religious curriculum.

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