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A Paradise Lost at Montpelier, MS
A Paradise Lost at Montpelier, MS

A Paradise Lost at Montpelier, MS

When I was young, I remember riding down to Starkville with my parents, and we went a route that took us through a small Clay County town called Montpelier, and I had remembered falling in love with it. It had the look of a very old town, and its buildings seemed to be historic, so I was looking forward to seeing it again for the first time since that day when I was little. Unfortunately, I was in for something of a shock, because Montpelier today has been decimated, and there is really very little trace of the charming village I recall from years ago. The building that I remembered as a store and post office is now abandoned, and the gas station next door to it is also abandoned. One tin-roofed seemingly historic house sits across the road, but it is overgrown with trees and weeds, and is behind a locked gate in the middle of a farm field and cannot be accessed. There are far fewer buildings than I recall from that childhood visit too, which suggests that a lot has just been torn down. Although when I checked in on my phone, the location read Montpelier Historic District, that truly seemed a cruel joke, since there was really nothing historic left. I headed on toward West Point in a rather depressed frame of mind, but the worst was yet to come. A complex of buildings on the road a few miles from the town proved to be an abandoned school. A still-visible sign on the gymnasium building told me that this school had been West Clay High School, but it was now sitting and rotting in the sun. I frequently come across abandoned schools in my travels, particularly in the South, and I never like to see them. Although I know that other provisions have been made for the kids involved, something about school buildings abandoned just seems wrong,as if we failed in our commitment to our young people. One wonders if the school was abandoned because Montpelier had been, or if Montpelier was abandoned because there was no longer a school.


  1. I grew up right down the road from West Clay High School and the school was closed for a myriad of reasons. The interior was in severe disrepair. Our 4-H banquet was held there one year when I was in elementary school and just the bathrooms were appalling. The county did not want to spend money on the school period. They only ever had one sports team, a basketball team. Also, test scores were so low that they lost their accreditation with the state. Wrap your head around that. So now all the county kids have to ride the bus probably at least 45 minutes one way to school every day until they can drive. There is still the elementary school in Montpelier but it is kept open by grants with very little money from the county. The west side of the county has always been largely ignored by the county all you have to do is ride some dirt roads to see that. Montpelier has faded away because there is no one new moving into the community. The families that live there have lived there since the 50s or longer. I myself moved away, though I miss it terribly. Great site!

    1. Judy Britton

      Hi Lana,
      Do you know of another school called Montpelier High school that no longer exists?
      My mother graduated in 1939 or 40. She played basketball at the school. I can’t figure out if that was clay High. I think not because the building looks too new.
      Thanks for any help!

      1. Cynthia Dees

        Yes there was the very old school. I too would like information about it! My mother graduated there in the 1930’s. We used to drive by it. She told me about playing basketball there. Her name was Ines Hazlewood Williams.

          1. Delores Smith

            Judy is your mother’s brother Buddy Stafford? My mother-in-law’ s cousin married a Buddy Stafford from there. Her name is Dorothy Barton Smith and she too played basketball at Montpelier. She was born in 1928.

          2. Delores Smith

            Posting again. Not sure the first one went through. Judy did your mother have a brother named Buddy Stanford? My mother-in-law’s cousin married a Buddy Stamford from there. Mother-in-law’s name is Dorothy Barton Smith. She too played basketball at Mont Pelier. She was born in 1928. They could have played together.

  2. Leslie Gilbert

    Do you happen to know the history of the old store and post office? My grandmother grew up in Montpelier in the first years of the 1900s. I have some letters her father wrote to her mother around 1900. So I was wondering if this could possibly be the post office that they used. It would be amazing if it was that old.

  3. Will Hayward

    I used to live right next to the school. There was a bar not too far down the road called Yankee’s. A bit further down the same road was “The Bloody Bucket” but my mom took it over when I was a young teen and named it Sassy’s.

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