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Folk Art and History In Holly Springs, Mississippi
Folk Art and History In Holly Springs, Mississippi

Folk Art and History In Holly Springs, Mississippi

On and off over the last few years, I have been playing with Duwayne Burnside, the extraordinary blues guitarist and son of Hill Country blues great R. L. Burnside. Our rehearsals recently have been in Holly Springs, but up until last weekend, I never noticed the work of folk art on what appears to be a garage behind a house at West Valley Avenue and Boundary Street. “The Color of My Skin Is Not A Weapon,” says one sign, while the other proclaims “White Silence=White Consent.” Both are surrounded by African masks.

Down Boundary Street to the south toward Highway 7, I noticed another building for the first time, a large two-story building with a chimney at both ends which looked quite historic, but which for some reason I had never noticed before. It looked to be quite old, but I had no idea exactly how old it actually is. The building, once the University of Holly Springs, was built in 1837! It later housed a boys’ school called the Chalmers Institute. Although it looks abandoned, it is apparently in the process of being restored, and will supposedly become a venue for music concerts, weddings and receptions.

One comment

  1. Thank you for the posting. Yes…historic Chalmers Institute is owned by Preserver Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc., who took sole ownership of it in 2009. We have received three funding-assistance grants from MDAH to move forward the structure’s long-overdue stabilization and restoration.

    In the spring of 2018, we completed Phase IIi, which was the stabilization and rehabilitation of the 2nd floor, which was followed upon its heels the hurricane force wind in June 2018, taking down a 200-odd-years-old Pecan tree in the rear lawn, obliterating about one-third of the second floor. Hard luck.

    In 2019, we were able to cobble together funds to reconstruct the severely damaged exterior walls and replace roof structure and roofing damage and feted our first summer fund-raiser: “Picnic on the Lawn at Chalmers”…which featured Kenny Brown and his band and were planning our ninth “Wrecking Ball” fall fund-raiser in 2020.

    Then came the Corona Virus, which shut all our plans, including the annual “Behind the Big House” program.

    We are looking optimistically on hosting events in 2022. Check our Facebook page and website:

    We gladly accept, and deeply appreciate donations towards our work.

    Chelius H. Carter, President
    P. O. Box #787
    Holly Springs, MS 38635

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