Video: Remembering Mary Holmes Community College

WEST POINT, Miss.(WCBI)—Mary Holmes Community College has been serving The City Of West Point since 1898.

The two year institution left a lasting impression on generations of young African Americans, in the early years before closing it’s doors, as a learning institution, permanently in 2005.

“Some people need that start right out of high school and this was a start,”said alumni Belinda Rice.

It was founded as Mary Holmes Seminary, In Jackson Mississippi. It changed to a community college in West Point, but the mission has always been to help disadvantaged students all over the Southeast.

Belinda Rice is a member of the Mary Holmes class of ’89. She still drives by her old campus every day on her way to work.

“There’s a missing piece of the puzzle with the college being closed. So, much life was on the campus and you knew Mary Holmes College was a place that, you know, where they had dances and gym you could come out,even as a high school student and participate in the events,”said Rice.

Mary Holmes Community College, operated under the umbrella of the Presbyterian Church from it founding in 1892 until 1969, when it became independent.

The school thrived through the 70’s and 80’s. Rice says making the choice to attend Mary Holmes was a no – brainer for her, after other family members had earned degrees there.

“My sister actually attended before I did. So, I always kind of wanted to come because she came and I was out on campus with her. So being younger, we had a love for the school, being in the community. It was a place that made you feel accepted, it was family,”said Rice.

Just five years after closing its doors as a learning institute, the school was purchased by West Point Community Counseling in 2010, to help preserve the quickly-deteriorating buildings.

Several renovations have been done to the campus, but the original admissions building will be torn down in May.

Richard Duggin is the CFO of The Community Counseling Branch in West Point.

“Then you’ve got this old piece of history sitting here. If left to it’s own devices, it would be gone by it’s self. It would just fall in. It really became dangerous. The city talked with us about it becoming condemned,”said Duggin.

” Walking through the doors and enrolling for the first time as a student and this was the turning point in my life and to see it go down it’s like, wow, this is really happening,”said Rice.

The EPA partnered with Community Counseling to replace the Mead Administration Building with a green space, equipped with meditation trail,
benches and additional parking for the chapel and museum. The date for demolition has not been set.

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