College Street Historic District
The College Street Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The College Street Historic District is a collection of twenty-three principal buildings located along or adjacent to College Street in the city of Senatobia, Tate County, Mississippi. Apart from addresses on College Street are buildings nearby on North Front Street, Ward Street, North Center Street, North Panola Street, and West Main Street. All of these contiguous properties combine to give the College Street Historic District its unique historical character.
The College Street Historic District is located to the north and west of the core of Senatobia's central business district (See Downtown Senatobia Historic District, NR listed), and lies largely to the east of Panola Street (U.S. Highway 51; see North Panola Street Historic District, NR listed). College Street, its principal street, runs east/west through the College Street Historic District to connect with Panola Street on the west, and the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad and North Park Street to the east (See North Park Street Historic District, NR listed).
The College Street Historic District occupies a rather flat tabletop of land, gently rising from its low point on the east to its high point at Panola Street. A low draw separates portions of the College Street Historic District from the downtown area to the south; this feature was created by a small creek, which was piped and buried beneath the existing grade in the ca. 1930s. Most residences facing College Street have sites at grade with the street level, though there are buildings built on low land terraces at the western end of College Street, and along Ward Street and North Center Street, as the grade drops off towards the draw to the south.
The College Street Historic District is largely residential in character, though two of its key features are the Senatobia High School Auditorium building (303 College Street (a), built 1938), and the Senatobia Presbyterian Church (431 West Main Street, 1927). Another building, commercial in character though public in use, is the Senatobia Public Works building (105 College Street, ca. 1925-30), originally constructed as an agricultural seed and feed store building.
Architectural styles found in the College Street Historic District include a wide range of the influences to be found in the historic areas of Senatobia as a whole. Examples of Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Craftsman and Minimalist Traditional all contribute to the diversity of the College Street Historic District's character. House types found here are equally diverse, and include saddlebags, center hall plans, composite cottages, Capes, pyramidal cottages, bungalows, Foursquare houses and Homestead houses.
The Art Moderne styling of the Senatobia High School Auditorium and the Gothic Revival styling of the Senatobia Presbyterian Church are notable in their own right as finely-executed architectural statements.
Unfortunately, the scope of this project did not allow the opportunity to conduct intensive research to identify the architects responsible for these fine buildings.
Apart from the structures located in the College Street Historic District, there are elements of character provided by the streetscape which establish the district's historic setting, as evolved over time. The pattern of streets, lot divisions, front yard, and side yard setbacks all establish the matrix of rhythm of the streetscape which contains its historic buildings; its pattern of historic street trees, sidewalks, lawns and private plantings serve as evidence of the district's continuity as a place for living. All of these elements contribute to the character of the College Street Historic District.
The College Street Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the area of architecture in reflection of the significance of its diverse assemblage of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century building types and architectural influences. These structures — residential, public and institutional in nature — combine to form an important contribution to the character of setting, time and place that reflect a number of significant periods of development in the history of Senatobia. The period of significance begins with the date of the oldest structure in the district, and concludes with the date of the latest structure that reflects the historical character of the district. The structures which remain form an important contribution to the qualities that define Senatobia as a unique place.
The development pattern of the College Street Historic District is not entirely clear, in part due to the fact that Sanborn maps for Senatobia did not extend to include College Street until 1902. However, the Senatobia Female College (later Blackbourne College for Girls) is noted on an inset in the Sanborn map series of 1886. The college — obviously the namesake for the street — was located at the intersection of Ward and College Street, in approximately the same site occupied today by the Senatobia High School Auditorium at 303 College Street. It appears that this site has been continuously occupied by a school building for more than a century.
The Senatobia High School Auditorium building is an outstanding example of the Art Moderne style: it was constructed in 1938, apparently as a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Its stylized bas-relief sculptures, facade sun dial, lighting fixtures and other detailings all reveal the hand of an extremely talented designer, whose identity is unfortunately unknown. Taken as a whole, this structure is among the finest Art Moderne designs surviving in the region.
The residential development of College Street was likely begun within a decade of the establishment of the college, though few of the original structures built here at that time are those in evidence today. The lot pattern of the street suggests that many original lots have been subdivided over time — given the evidence of the structures present, it would appear that many of these subdivisions occurred right after the turn of the twentieth century. Most of the buildings in evidence today were built between ca. 1910 and 1920.
The College Street Historic District reflects a number of the characteristic architectural trends that define the very identity of Senatobia throughout its period of significance. The presence of buildings like the Senatobia High School Auditorium and the Senatobia Presbyterian Church add additional importance and dignity to this historic area reflective of trends that shaped the community and possessing qualities which add unique character to the College Street Historic District and the community as a whole.
Carpenter, Howard, editor. The History of Tate County. (Senatobia, MS: B/C Printing, 1975.)
Sanborn Map Publishing Company, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Senatobia, Mississippi; map series 1886, 1892, 1897, 1902, 1907, 1915, 1925, 1936-42.
† John Linn Hopkins, Preservation Consultant, College Street Historic District, Tate County, Senatobia, MS, nomination document, 1993, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.