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Hunting for abandoned places in Mississippi? You’re in the right place. Below are 13 of my favorite abandoned places throughout the state.
Abandoned Places In Mississippi
1. Fort Massachusetts
In 1847, the United States declared the Ship Island a military reservation, and Congress authorized the construction of a fort nine years later. Fort Massachusetts is a fort on the Mississippi Gulf Coast of the United States, located on West Ship Island. It was constructed in the aftermath of the War of 1812, with brick walls, between 1859 and 1866, and continued in service until 1903. The Army Corps of Engineers oversaw construction, which began in June 1859. By early 1861, the fort’s exterior wall had risen 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) above the sand level.
During the war, from 1862 to 1865, about 40 buildings were built on the island, including a hospital, barracks, mess hall, and bakery. In addition, in 1862, the Army Corps of Engineers resumed work on the fort itself. The fort was given the name “Massachusetts” at that time, most likely in honor of the USS Massachusetts. However, the fort was never officially named; most official records simply refer to it as “Fort on Ship Island.”
Fort Massachusetts had been built on the water’s edge, and the salt air and wave action had severely damaged the old mortar, particularly around the northeast bastion. In December 2001, staff from the Historic Preservation Training Center came ashore to re-point, repair, and reset the fort’s brick walls, which had not been maintained since 1866.
This spot is special because it’s one of the few abandoned places in Mississippi that was once an active fort used to defend the coastline.
2. Windsor Ruins
Smith Daniell built the huge residence in 1859-1861 and only lived there for a few weeks before dying. The Windsor plantation used to be 2,600 acres in size. Mark Twain is said to have seen the Mississippi River in the distance from a roof observatory. In the front doorway of the house, a Union soldier was shot. The estate was utilized as a Union hospital and observation post during the Civil War, saving it from being burned down by Union troops.
However, following the Civil War, a guest left a lighted cigar on the upper balcony during a house party on February 17, 1890, and Windsor burned to the ground.
Except for 23 columns, balustrades, and iron steps, everything was demolished. Now, these columns standstill, an embodiment of these grand structures in their days of glory. Anyone can visit the Windsor Ruins making it one of the best legal abandoned places in Mississippi.
3. Royal Land Amusement Park
When down-on-their-luck carnies abandoned rides at the adjacent fairgrounds, which were also owned by the Royal family, Royal Land was born. Lloyd Royal got the help of Monte, a carnival worker, and a few laborers to construct Royal Land in the late ’60s and early 70’s. Almost everything at the carnival was for resale. Lloyd Royal would buy anything second-hand and remodel it if he wanted to add something to the carnival that wasn’t already on his fairgrounds.
An ancient fairground ticket booth was converted into a movie projection booth. A rusting train leftover from a movie production was utilized for the train ride, and the park itself was powered by a half-broken ancient generator. Monte thought the worn-out and broken-down carnival rides contributed to the attractiveness of the Royal Land, but they didn’t add to the earnings, and the park barely lasted three or four years.
Despite its decay, Royal Land is still one of the most unique abandoned places in Mississippi, so if you’re nearby be sure to check it out. Just make sure you bring the bug spray.
The entry to Royal Land appears to be a portal into a world haunted by the spirits, standing guard over rusted railroad tracks, a dank and mildewed old ticket booth, and decaying reel-to-reel cassettes half buried in the weedy ground.
4. Arlington Estate
According to Arlington’s nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places, the estate may have been created by New Jersey native John Hampton White for his wife, Jane Surget White, between 1816 and 1821. John Hampton White died in a yellow fever epidemic in 1819, around the time it was due to be finished.
The home had a sweeping central hall that ran from the front to the back of the building, flanked on each side by two rooms, and a staircase positioned in a secondary hall between two of the rooms. Many of the house’s treasures were passed down from generation to generation. In September 2002, disaster struck when a terrible fire ravaged Arlington, destroying the roof and much of the upper story. While the ground floor was not fully destroyed, it was severely damaged. Many of the home’s valuable antiques and books were fortunately saved and later repaired.
Discarded wooden door frames and other detritus litter the entry foyer. Graffiti adorns the walls, and the ceiling has been extensively damaged. The roof has been renovated thanks to the Historic Natchez Foundation, but the structure is still nothing more than a collapsing shell.
Given the history, the Arlington Estate is one of my favorite abandoned places in Mississippi, so don’t pass it up!
5. Rodney Ghost Town
Rodney, located 32 miles northeast of Natchez, was once a thriving metropolis on the Mississippi River. Rodney, once known as Petit Gulf, was on the verge of becoming the state capital after Mississippi gained statehood in 1817. The town was founded in 1828 and consisted of roughly 20 structures that stretched from the river to the bluff behind the town. Slaves built cotton farms on the lush soil nearby. Slave labor was used to maintain the fields, making the landowners wealthy.
When the slaves were freed, many of them departed the area. Rodney was no longer deemed an official town by the Governor of Mississippi in 1930. Floods from the surrounding river have continued to erode the remaining structures since then. Most locals believe that the 2011 flood wiped away the majority of the remaining people and structures.
On the visit to this one road town, the silver dome of a spectacular Greek Gothic revival church is strikingly visible. The meandering overgrown cemetery, with at least 200 tombs dating back to the town’s establishment in 1828, can be seen from the hill.
Of all the abandoned places in Mississippi, Rodney is by far my favorite ghost town.
6. Hinds County Armory
Built in 1927, the historic Hinds County Armory was designed by Jackson architect Frank P. Gates, one of the founding members of the AIA Mississippi branch. For the past 30 years, the historic armory has sat empty. The Hinds County Armory is thought to be the state’s oldest surviving 20th-century armory. It’s possible that it’s the only armory built during that time period. For nearly 50 years, the structure was used as a training facility by the National Guard. The armory was one of the main staging areas for Mississippi troops serving in World War II.
In the armory, many returning soldiers mustered out. It is one of the best instances of Gothic Revival architecture in the state, as well as one of the few secular structures having such a design. The structure was devastated in the 1979 Easter Flood in Jackson and has not been used since.
Hinds County Armor is an ornate brick building with gothic arches off to the side of High Street in Jackson. The structure is nearly entirely made up of a big concrete-floor drill area with wooden bleachers on two sides and a stage at one end.
7. Mississippi River Basin Model
The Mississippi River Basin Model was created by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1943 to examine floods, droughts, and other meteorological occurrences. German prisoners of war who were taken in North Africa when Rommel’s Afrika Korps was decimated by Anglo-American forces took out the initial excavation. Local Jackson contractors did the later concrete work. In the early 1950s, the model was finished and ready to use.
The model also served as a tourist attraction, where engineers could bring their dates and wow them with their hydro-engineering knowledge. While the land is now owned by the City of Jackson, and there was talk about doing something with it a few years ago. Although it was classified as a Mississippi Landmark in 1993, that designation does not stop it from decaying away.
The facility was abandoned by the Army Corps in the 1990s. The model is becoming overgrown, and at some point, it will cease to be a model–the concrete will presumably take some time to decay, but once trees and vegetation take hold, there will be no turning back.
8. Southern Christian Institute
The Home Missionary Society of the Disciples of Christ founded Southern Christian Institute in 1882 after purchasing Col. McKinney L. Cook’s 800-acre farm west of Edwards. For a decade, the mansion house was the center of activity, but by the 1890s, various other structures had begun to establish a campus environment.
Many of SCI’s students went on to become teachers and work in Mississippi’s public schools. During the Civil Rights Movement, it held Bob Moses’ movement leadership training. In 1971, the institution was reborn as Bonner Campbell School of Religion, a branch of the A.M.E. church. The owners have battled in recent years to keep the campus up, mostly for church retreats but also as a Head Start program until roughly 2000.
Roofs are riddled with holes, with Allison Hall’s roof in particular suffering from a massive wound. In general, vines have grown up the walls, windows have been broken out, and the internal wood in some of the structures is seems to be decaying.
9. First Christian Church
N.W. Overstreet & Associates, a well-known Jackson architectural firm, designed First Christian Church in 1950. It was abandoned–not only abandoned, but vandalized–and is now owned by a congregation that has no purpose for it. The site was purchased by First Baptist Church in 2002 with the purpose of knocking down all but the tower and constructing a “prayer garden” on its corner lot one block from the complex.
In all fairness, they have kept the property in good condition, with a well-kept grass and a secure structure. However, they are yet to express a desire to do anything with the massive Gothic Revival building.
Members of the First Christian church are accused of destroying the historic sanctuary by breaking out as many of the massive blue windows as they could. They also appear to have removed parts of the hardware and doors, as well as destroying the altar/pulpit section, which had been beautifully finished in the Gothic style.
10. Port Gibson Oil Works
The Port Gibson Oil Works, built in 1882 and placed on the National Register in 1979, is one of the first cottonseed crushing mills in the United States, having been in operation from 1882. While the milling operation’s products remain the same, the process has undergone significant alterations. Cottonseed used to be delivered to the mill by train. It was unloaded into seed houses and fed into the mill’s cleaning room, where bolls and sand were removed. Cottonseed was delinked and hulled, yielding two by-products: lint (textile product) and hulls (cattle feed). Seed meats were steam-cooked before being pressed at 5000 psi in a hydraulic press.
The residual “cake” was processed into meal for animal feed, and cottonseed oil was recovered. Cottonseed is now delivered by truck to the mill. Oil is extracted from the seeds using hexane, a chemical solvent. In another building, the hexane is recovered in a steam still and a desolventizing.
Strange shapes of structures, rusted metal, and bizarre projecting machinery and pipes going this way and that make up the mill’s leftovers. The seed homes, with their distinctive steep roof and clerestory, are standing wrecked on the property.
11. Vaughan Ghost Town
The state Bureau of Recreation and Parks opened a museum in a reconstructed railroad depot transported to the Vaughan site from Pickens, Mississippi, in 1980, near the site of Casey Jones’s 1900 crash. Vaughan is a ghost town with only a store, post office, and a few abandoned buildings. A huge commercial building across from the museum has been rehabilitated by the state. Vaughan was never a major city–it might have qualified as a “village” back when that was an official classification. The train crash that killed engineer Casey Jones was Vaughan’s main claim to fame.
The Vaughan Museum, like several other historical state parks such as Florewood, was closed in 2004, and since then, structures had faded. The town of West received a grant in 2008 to transfer the depot up the lines to its downtown, where it now serves as a visitor center.
Within a few steps of downtown, at least two older homes still survive in various levels of abandonment, and the one-story old post office appears to have a few years of life left in it. Many of the town’s ruins are there to be remembered rather than restored.
12. Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital
The Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital (AASDH) in Yazoo City was the state’s first hospital for African Americans, built during the era of Mississippi’s strict racial segregation. When most black citizens in Mississippi lacked access to health care, the AASDH provided free health care to anyone. Future nurses were also taught in the hospital, allowing them to obtain their state licenses and work in other parts of the state. The hospital, which opened in 1928 and closed in 1972, had full-service operating and surgery rooms, as well as a delivery room and nursery.
Several African American doctors and nurses were linked with AASDH, but the most renowned was Dr. Lloyd T. Miller, who served as its main surgeon for many years. The structure had been closed since 1972 and had been abandoned for a long time when it was added to the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 2007 list of 10 Most Endangered Places.
Roof leaks and vandalism continue to plague the structure. The Afro-American Sons and Daughters Foundation has planned a few fund-raising events in 2009, with the goal of housing the Yazoo City Head start program, and hosting community events in the building.
13. Kings Daughter’s Nurses Home
The Lois Aron Memorial Home for Nurses at the Kings Daughters Hospital first opened its doors in 1922. A well-known local architect, Mr. Frank R. McGeoy, designed the drawings and specifications for the new structure. There were twelve bedrooms, a living room, porches, and many bathrooms in the design. The building’s flooring was polished white maple, and the furniture was white enamel with an ivory finish, with mahogany doors.
It was heated with hot water, with brick veneer and stone accent on the exterior. It was one of the most attractive residential buildings in the city, with enormous projecting eaves. Strong Avenue, which is currently being paved, faced south. The outer wings were added later, possibly by McGeoy, who was still practicing in the 1930s.
The Lois Aron Memorial Nurse’s Home is still operational, although no longer as a nursing home. It’s known as the “ARON ANNEX,” and it serves as a house for patients’ families who must travel long distances to the hospital, as well as classrooms for their Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) students.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Mississippi, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.