History of the big, abandoned high school with a cemetery in Clarksdale, Mississippi

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 it's 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)

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."

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."

Bobo Cemetery at the old Clarksdale High School, in Clarksdale, Mississippi

Bobo Cemetery at the old Clarksdale High School, in Clarksdale, Mississippi

The application includes interior photographs of the building from 2007, and is worth a look.

Photo inside the Bobo High School by Jennifer Boughn, 2007

Photo inside the Bobo High School by Jennifer Boughn, 2007, from the application for historical registration.

Sources

Mississippi Department of Archives and History
National Register of Historic Places

 

 

Comments

Keith Dotson:

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

Constance Jones:

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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