In 1855 William Mills, president of the Northern Bank of Mississippi, built the original antebellum house on a hill north of Holly Springs.  It was a Greek Revival brick house.  In 1871 the house was purchased by James Benton Potts, whose widow sold the house in 1876 to James Wren Fant.  The Fant family owned the home until 1895, when they sold it to Bishop Elias Cottrell, who was born a slave but went on to become Bishop of the C.M.E. Church and an influential figure in the region.

In 1903 Bishop Cottrell received area surrounding the Mills property from the city of Holly Springs.  He founded the Mississippi Industrial College on the spot in 1905 as a liberal arts college and an industrial trade school.  The Mississippi Industrial College lasted until 1982, when it was closed.  For a more detailed history of the Mississippi Industrial College, please see the blog post here.

Cathrine Hall, which was likely named for Bishop Cottrell’s wife, was the first building built on campus in 1905.  It incorporated pieces of the original Mills house, including the doorway and parts of the front facade.  The facade of Cathrine Hall contained two projecting gable-roof pavilions with curvilinear parapet walls articulated by prominent coping and knobbed finials. The pavilions were connected by a frame portico with Doric columns and an entablature.

Cathrine Hall was abandoned with the rest of the campus in 1982.  By the mid 2000s it was in serious disrepair, and suffered extreme damage during a storm in 2010.  In 2012, it was destroyed by Rust College, who had bought the entire property in 2008.  Both Cathrine Hall and the long-buried Mills House were lost forever.

Many of the pictures of Cathrine Hall are courtesy of the South Reporter newspaper and the Preservation in Mississippi blog.  The history of the Mills House is courtesy of Chelius Carter, with Preserve Marshall County and Holly Springs, Inc., local historian and author Hubert McAlexander, and Mary Carol Miller.

6 thoughts

  1. Is this “Dutch Colonial” or “Dutch Somethingism?” They always remind me of the houses on the canals in Amsterdam.


    1. Yes, Dutch Colonial Revival style, characterized by the gambrel style roof. There is another Dutch Colonial on Salem Avenue, next door to Mary Clay Brooks. These are the only two Dutch Colonials I know of in Holly Springs.


      1. Sorry Diane, I thought you posted this on the Randalia page. That house is indeed Dutch Colonial Revival. This building (Cathrine Hall) was actually a Jacobean Revival (or neo-Jacobean) with a bit of Colonial Revival and a touch (from the original antebellum house) of Greek Revival. The loss of that front Jacobean facade was really devastating.


  2. Who do I contact to take pictures. I’m wanting to explore the old campus and take pictures with a bike as well so who do I contact please let me know.


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