Details about the big, abandoned school building in Clarksdale, Mississippi, which has an old cemetery on its property
It's not every day you find an empty historic high school with a graveyard on its lawn, but while exploring and photographing Clarksdale, Mississippi, that's exactly what I discovered.
More information about the school and the cemetery is below.
Old Bobo Cemetery on the Grounds of a Abandoned Clarksdale High School (A0012720). Click the photo to buy a fine black and white print.
Abandoned Clarksdale High School building
The Bobo Senior High School Building, later named Clarksdale High School, is an abandoned historic school building on a hill overlooking the Sunflower River in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The three-story Gothic Revival building was designed by architect P.J. Krouse, and opened about 1930, closing in 1999. If you've spent any time at all in Clarksdale, you've seen it probably seen it looming across the river from downtown.
Excerpt quoted from a historic registry at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History
The text below is an exact copy/paste from the official registry page at MDAH.
"The Bobo Senior High School Building is located in a residential neighborhood near the Sunflower River. The three story brick and masonry school was built in 1929-1930, designed by architect P.J. Krouse, remains a strong example of Gothic Revival architecture as applied to a school building. The land where the school sits was formerly the Bobo family plantation. The family donated the land to the city with the provision the property be used for education. Even after the school was built, the Bobo family home sat on the property. Although that structure has been demolished, the Bobo family cemetery remains on the school grounds. As originally built, the school had an auditorium, gymnasium, and cafeteria. In 1946, N.W. Overstreet oversaw conversion of much of the auditorium into classroom space. However, the stage with a decorative plaster proscenium and decorative plaster cornices remain. Later alterations include replacement of 6/6 double hung windows with three panel aluminum windows. However, the aluminum windows are located in the original window openings which would allow restoration of more sympathetic windows. The interior spaces retain a high degree of integrity with little change to the physical layout of the structure. Interior doors and transoms, wall finishes and floor finishes are found throughout the building.
The Bobo Senior High School served the Clarksdale community from 1930 to 1999, first as a white school and integrated fully integrated after 1970. The first non-white student, Chinese, enrolled in 1941 at a time when many segregated schools required Asian students to attend black schools."
Ivy on Arches of an Abandoned High School, Black and White Photograph by Keith Dotson. Buy a fine art print here.
About the Bobo Family Cemetery at Clarksdale High School
The National Register of Historic Places application for the property includes this text about the cemetery:
"Just west of the arcade, the Bobo family cemetery remains on the site. The Bobo family was early settlers in Clarksdale and the school is located on the family's former plantation. There are three rows of headstones marking the graves of thirteen family members. The dates on the headstones range from May 4, 1801 to March 24, 1895."
Photo inside the Bobo High School by Jennifer Boughn, 2007, from the application for historical registration.
SourcesMississippi Department of Archives and History
National Register of Historic Places
I attended school there and graduated class of 1986. I loved that school. No air conditioning, and never got to hot in the summer. Lots of lifelong friends made there. Thanks for the write up on my Alma Mater.
Jun 27, 2022
Fascinating! Thanks for sharing that story, Robin.
May 05, 2021
Robin L :
I came across your photographs of this old high school with cemetery on the grounds because I have a client who used to live across the street from it when she was a little girl. Her father taught music at the high school. She told me that One Sunday she stayed home from Church for some reason and saw someone coming out of the graveyard. He was dressed in rags and looked singularly downtrodden, as though he was homeless. He just got up from seemingly nowhere and walked away. She went later to see where he’d come from and there were no tracks in the dirt from where he’d been. Thought you might be interested in that, thanks for reading.
May 05, 2021
Hi Constance — I totally agree! It’s probably a matter of money. More than likely, a private investor would need to buy the property and refurbish it for commercial use. I hope someone saves it.
Dec 28, 2018
Why isn’t that building refurbished? It’s a part of Clarksdale’s history. It’s a shame all the vandalism that building had to it. I would like to see it refurbished.Thanks, Constance Jones
Dec 28, 2018
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