Pass Christian Saving History

Two projects underway in Pass Christian will help to reclaim part of the history Katrina stole. The city is looking for grant money to restore the old Randolph school built 1920s. And the Pass Christian Historical Society plans to build a replica of the historic bank that was its headquarters.

Inside the bank vault where the Pass Christian Historical society hoped its treasures would be safe from Katrina, president Alicia Ellis still finds reminders of what the hurricane destroyed. Ellis said in the beginning the loss seemed overwhelming.

"It made us very sad because we lost all the history that we had saved, so we thought," said Ellis.

Now the historical society is moving forward with plans to construct a near replica of its headquarters - a Greek Revival style bank building, built in 1910.

"Because it was historical and it had the ambiance of looking like what we expect in Pass Christian, just a little Southern building and had the columns and the beauty of an old building."

Grant writer Lolly Barnes is working with the city of Pass Christian to secure the $1 million it needs to restore the Randolph school. She says it was built in 1928 with the help of a grant program dedicated to building schools for African-Americans.

"Julius Rosenwald was a philanthropists that funded the construction of schools all across the Southeast," said Barnes. "Here in Mississippi, he helped to construct over 600 schools for African-American students. And it's very sad, there are very few left today."

The city plans to resurrect the Randolph school as a senior citizen center.

"I think particularly here in Pass Christian, well, along the coast really, there are just so few of our wonderful historical building left. And I just applaud and admire the city of Pass Christian for their determination to save this one," Barnes said.

The Historical Society is now taking architectural bids and hopes to start work in the summer. Barnes said restoration work on the Randolph school could begin in March.