thoughts and images from out of the way places
Forgotten America, Travel

Stewart M. Jones Junior High School

The solid  Georgian Revival Beauty has stood proud since it was completed in 1927 by renowned Meridian architect P.J. Krouse.  It was one of the few schools in the state built on the E site plan, meaning that some of the classes were located on the North Flank and other classes and the library were located on the South Flank.  The center of the E was the auditorium with the Principals  Office behind the stage.    The backbone of the E was the front hall which provided classrooms, restrooms as well as counseling and administrative offices.

My dad went here when the building was just a few years old,  in the mid to early 1930′s.  When I was younger he would tell me stories of going to school here and learning to play the saxophone.  The stories he told offered a whole new insight to the gentle man that would later become a mechanic and want to help people in need whether he got paid or not.  Because of my dad’s history here, a time of carefree thinking and planning of the adventures a life has for you, I had always wanted to poke around and look to see where some of his dreams began.

Much of the south wing of the classic building burned almost 3 years ago.  Since then the classrooms have remained silent.  When I was in Laurel to celebrate my Mom’s 80th birthday a few weeks ago I took an opportunity to ride around and look some of the wonderful old buildings in my charming hometown.  I was surprised when I went by Stewart Jones and saw the doors open.  Construction workers were doing a superb  job restoring the severely damaged South wing of the old school.  I stayed out of their way and took photos of the magnificent old auditorium.  I have to admit I sat there and imagined my daddy playing a sax solo at a long ago  Christmas program.  I would love to go back in time!  The sun from the windows streamed in to an old dirty stage.  From the right perspective the light was gorgeous against the American Flag that still stood proud, center-stage.

Downstairs an old map laminated on the wall directed me to the entrance to the old fallout shelter that was meant to protect students from nuclear attack in perilous times. When I peered into the old shelter it looked like junk had been stored there for many more years than it was ever used as a fallout shelter.

Classrooms still had notes and homework assignments written on the boards.  Code of Conduct was taken seriously here, and straying from the rules would not be tolerated.  It seems that teachers were well loved as bulletin boards still had notes tacked up from students at the end of the last day.  The notes all proclaimed that their teacher was the best and could not be beat!

Most lockers stood empty, although some still had notes tacked up on them, or numbers from football jerseys.  Storage rooms were filled with books and class-plans for the upcoming semester.  Positive signs still displayed in empty halls encouraged students to” be all they could become’, ‘to dream big,’  and ‘go out and make a difference in the world.’  One or two essays penned on the walls indicated that at least a few of the students that attended planned to take advantage of a good education and make their mark in the world.  I sure do hope the best for them.  I don’t know where they’ve been dispersed to since the fire, but I pray they have held on to the the strong convictions that were taught at this Mississippi Landmark.

I know that my dad never forgot his time at Stewart M. Jones.  He would talk about it when we would drive by there and say, almost to himself,  “good times, that was a good school”.

The current plan for Stewart M. Jones is to begin a Ninth Grade Academy at the location once renovations are complete. School board members feel that the ninth grade is a pivotal time when teens make the transition between middle school and high school.  If they can reach students at this critical stage they can be encouraged  throughout  their high school careers, producing a much higher graduation rate for Seniors and a much lower drop out rate for 10th graders.  I’d say that is a pretty good legacy for Stewart M. Jones to carry on.  I think my dad would be proud.

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96 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for the pictures! I went to Jones 1969-70, 70-71, 71-72. My father went there the first year it was open, I think it was 1927. Those were the best three years of my childhood. Made great friends and had great teachers. Ms.Giles was my favorite. I moved away after 1972 so this is the first time I’ve seen inside since then. Sooo much just came flooding back. Thanks again.

  2. Loved this school. How could anyone forget Mrs McCormic for Mississippi History, Miss Bilbo for English, Coach Floppy Bishop for P.E. Coach Lonnie Meaders for Football and Basketball, Coach Cecil Williams for Mechanical Drawing and Shop, Mrs.Gates for 9th grade English, great prep for George S. Gardiner.

  3. I was fortunate to stumble across your amazing blog and photography!! I wanted to comment for a couple reasons. First I had to tell you how great your experiences are. You put me right there alongside you with these stunning images. Wow!! Second, how do you typically get permission to gain access to these abandoned locations? I own a paranormal vacation company and I’m very interested in preservation. I’m always looking for new places to take people to spend the night, and to raise money to keep these pieces of history here!! Do you know of any other amazing places in the radius of the Charlotte, NC area? Sorry I’m posting this on this one instead of the last one… please email me if you can. Thank you and keep shooting!!!

  4. I loved the article & the pictures – the comments opened a floodgate of memories & emotions. The teachers started me on the path of education, and I just retired after 42 yrs of teaching – Jones Jr High saw other things – student council meetings, home room programs on stage, Sadie Hawkins Day field events, chorus productions & band concerts. Soooo many more – it is also where I fell in love for the first time – Ronnie Clark stole my heart, & still has a big hunk of it today – thank you for a walk down Memory Lane.

  5. I also attended this school and have many fond memories of classmates and teachers. You have done a beautiful job restoring those memories. Now when they finish the renovation will please return and do it again for all of us who live far away and will never get to walk there again? PLEASE Thank You Cynthia “Kitty”

  6. I remember each hallway, every door, my teachers and even the art room downstairs. So many fond memories of my jr high school days. It is so sad to see it in such bad shape in these pictures. And the fire that took out Mrs Hayes history class, English with Miss Byrd and even the lab where Mrs Lynch taugh how to dissect frogs and about the science world around us. Thanks for the trip back.

  7. Thank you, thank you for such great photos of my old Junior High School.

    My husband & I were in Laurel in very early May & walked down 5th Avenue to Jones Jr. High, peeking in some of the windows at my long-ago classrooms & study hall. My sister & I lived less than a block away, so I had no excuse for being tardy. We often played on the school ground on weekends & holidays.

    Your photos were truly a trip down memory lane – and with such a happy ending – this beautiful school is being renovated.

  8. Thanks for the memories! The pictures made me stop and remember activities, classmates, and teachers–sock hops, packing peanuts for the football games (during PE), Garbo’s,– Mrs. Pigford who taught me to diagram sentences, and although it is a lost art, I still can do to this day,– and once when Mrs. Matthews ( after what I am sure was a trying day) looked out her window and whispered, “Dear Lord, grant me patience”. We students giggled, but having now retired from teaching myself, I have no idea how many times I looked out the window of my classroom and whispered those same words!!!

  9. My memories of JJH are three fold. I attended Jones in the Fifth grade while Lamar School was being renovated. All those upperclass folks looked so old to us. I attended Jones in the early fifties and graduated from Gardiner High in 1957. I came back to Jones for several years in the 70′s as secretary to Don Grubbs, Principal. My two children attended Jones also. It was my most favorite school I attended. Memories from two decades remind me of the character of the teachers and staff and I will cherish them forever. I still have several copies of the “Whirl”. They are priceless.

  10. Thanks for the memories. Jones Junior looked and smelled like school. I went there from ’61 to ’63, my brother Jimmy Johnson went there from ’56 to ’58 and our mother Juanita Johnson went there from ’29 to ’31. I remember great teachers, great chapel skits, girls drinking pickle juice from Garbos, what were those “hamburgers”?,Leonardo de Garbo, Honda 50′s, Cushman Scooters, the boiler blowing up, lab classes, standing in line at the Wisner building, sock hops and “fightem Jackets do your stuff”

  11. The pictures really bring back some fond memories that I thought were lost forever. Those were really great years for all of us. (Better times, for sure). Chicken supper football, Garbo’s 5 cent pickles, Mrs. Pigford, Ruth Giles public school music, Coach Walters, Cecil Williams woodworking shop, Malcom Flowers band teacher, Ms. Fall for Math, Ms. polk taught French. Mr. Phil Berry was the principal there for many years. I was there from 1952 to 1954. WOW, what a wonderful time. Thanks so very much for the trip down memory lane.

  12. Hey! Don’t forget Ms. Pigford, Bill Bufkin, Mr. and Mrs. Bush.
    That was when Robert Roark got his first pair of glasses, I was madly in “love” with Linda Boyd, and there was actually a shop class in the Wisner bldg.
    (How in the heck can I remember those moments when I can’t even remember my danged phone number?
    Great info and pics.

  13. I went to Jones from 1956 to 1958. My whole family had gone to Jones. My grandparents lived on the hill at the top that over looked Greco house. Before the Greco’s lived there, we would slide down the hill behind from Grandparents and run and play on the campus in the summer and we went sledding on the street that ran from the canal on Fifth Ave and up to Third. And I remember Mrs. Hays. She taught Social Studies. She was also the newspaper editor’s wife. She is one of the reasons that I became a teacher. And she introduced me to the realities of Nazi Germany. In the 1970′s, when we toured Dauchu in Germany, I understood the truth behind all we saw there. I taught Social Studies like she did, with lots of show and tell and hands-on and researching and visuals. And the literature classes and the English classes endeared me to a love for writing. I now write children’s books. And I sometimes wish we could go back to those wonderful years at Stewart M. Jones. I even remember doing a style show for PTA on the stage for Home Ec.

    • And remember how Mrs. Pigford would pull at her girdle to get it back down and her false teeth always gave her problems since they didn’t fit correctly. We loved her anyway. And Garbo’s – that was sheer heaven.

    • What a wonderful legacy Mrs. Hays has! It sounds like Stewart M. Jones had a lasting influence on you. Thanks so much for sharing!

  14. wow, what memories. i was so sad when it burned. my other school was stone deavours and it did burn to the groungd. i don’t want to loose all memories. so i am glad they are rebuilding. my faviorte teacher was miss giles. but i really enjoyed my classes with cecil williams in the weisner building. i knew when i was in that class that is what i wanted to do for the rest of my life. so i built cabinets and furniture till i retired a couple of years ago. many thanks for sending these pictures. doug bush 57-59

  15. I was a student at Jones Jr. High from 1955-58. I love your pictures which bring back so many memories…Mrs. Gates introducing us to prepositions (how, when, where, how much, how often)and Charles Dickens; singing with Miss Giles, who rode her bike to school; history with Mrs. Matthews; math with Miss Fall; those still valuable home economics lessons with Mrs. Hamilton; corn dogs from Garbo’s, walking to the bakery for lunch, and looking forward to the school newspaper to read the “gossip column.” Thanks for reviving these fond memories.

    • It sounds like you have so many wonderful memories. It sounds like almost the perfect world back then. If not perfect, then simpler, and in most cased, that’ll do just fine!

  16. I attended Jones Middle School from 1998-2000 for 7th and 8th grade. These were some of the most enjoyable years I’ve ever experienced in school. Seeing those pictures brought back so many great memories! I remember Mr. Moore’s 8th grade history class and Mrs. Carolyn Jones’ 7th grade math class. Ms. Donna West taught us 7th grade Career Discovery in the basement, where we got to experience “teen parenthood” by having dolls that were programmed to cry every so often. What a weekend that was! Mrs. Charlotte Cahill instilling in me correct grammar and Mrs. Mclemore teaching us the meaning of tough love. I can still remember seeing all of the guys having their “babies” in carriers lined up along the end of the football field after school while they had practice! I remember learning how to do the electric slide in the gym at a dance we had! I also remember being in my first school play and musicals on that stage under the direction of Mrs. Judy Holifield. Mr. Ricky Shomemake and Mr. Tommy Branch were great principals and the teachers were very educating and caring. I remember walking up the hill to have Algebra class in a trailor, taught by Mrs. Grubbsw who came over from Laurel High School. I made life-long friends at that school and now teach at the new Laurel Middle School. I even teach with a few teachers that taught me at Jones. I remember having a locker for the first time and being able to stop and chat between classes at our lockers, without ever being tardy for the next class. I remember being able to sit wherever we wanted in the cafeteria, while our teachers sat at a table across the back. Things are so different now in school! I had forgotten just how independent we were back then as middle schoolers until I saw those pictures and remembered. That truly was a great school, and I am so proud to know that they are restoring it so that future generations can enjoy such a wonderful place!

    • you have some wonderful memories. It’s so much fun to go back in time every once in a while and remember how wonderful the past was.

  17. It’s amazing how pictures can evoke such emotional memories. Things that were buried, suddenly brought to light. My daddy went there in the late 30′s early 40′s. I went there mid 60′s and my daughter in the 80′s. I remember Mrs. Botler’s P.E. class where I heard the talk about the “birds and the bees” – Mrs. Turner’s home ec. class where I became an excellent seamstress and I learned how to pose like Jackie Kennedy for photos. But it was the general atmosphere of the school that is still felt. You were safe there and you learned things there. What a wonderful place. Thank you for the pictures.

    • You’re welcome! I’m so glad you have enjoyed the photos. Seeing something for the first time can bring back a flood of memories. It sounds like you have kept some good ones!

  18. I attended JJH in my 7th and 8th grade years. My favorite class was Mrs. Hastings, 7th grade science down in the basement. My mother and her father also attended school there. Thank you so much for taking me back down memory lane.

  19. Great memories for me. My dad was Mr. Phil Berry who was the Principal of Stewart M. Jones Jr. High for years there at Jones. I was there in in 1955 and my brother Phil was three years ahead of me. We lived behind the school on 3rd Ave. It was a fantastic school with so many fond memories. I loved the photo of the Gym. I learned to play tennis by hitting hundreds of tennis balls up against that wall.I can still remember the smell of those basketball games played there. What a neat time and place to grow up in during the 50′s!!! I graduated from George S. Gardiner High School in 1958. Those were truly the “good ole days”. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

    • Jamie, so many people have mentioned how much they loved your father. There are so many great memories associated with this school and I’m sure your dad had a lot to do with that! I loved the entrance to the gym..it’s really unique! I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos.

  20. Great School !! Very Fond Memories.
    They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

  21. wow…what great memories of that school. i remember being on stage and in the seats in that auditorium…I remember football practice in front of the school with Coach Paul, and tennis with Coach Meadows…and Mrs Giles…what a sweetheart…thanks for posting the photos.

    • Thanks for posting! I loved the auditorium. I could just imagine it filled with kids for a special program. You were lucky to be a part of this place!

  22. I loved the photographs of the old girl. They brought back a lot great memories. Mrs. Hayes, who taught Mississippi History, and playing in band concerts on that stage. Thanks for the photos and the chance to think back.

    • I’m so glad you liked the photos. My dad played on that stage, that’s why it was so irresistible to me. I loved photographing there!

  23. Loved that old school. We lived only ablock away and we spent many hours there in the summers. The 60′s were a great time to live in such great home town. My heart breaks now as I see places in shambles like Lamar Elementry. Thanks for keeping this school from that fate. I remember a “battle of the bands” in the old Wizzner building. Wow, the memories. (not school bands, but Rock and Roll). Who would ever forget ‘The Garbo’s store’. Lol.

  24. 9 th grade best year ever. 8-0 football season. Still have my yearbooks and football jersey. Mrs. Scott told the class I woul fail the algebra final. Frankie Payton. Coach Saul. Mrs Giles. Chicken supper in the 7th grade….on and on….

  25. Oh, thank you so much for the narritive about our school. I loved the photos and they really brought back nothing but very fond memories of our times there. Those were special times for all of us.

  26. Ms. Giles, Ms. Matthews, Ms. Stone, Ms. Polk (yikes! the teacher I feared more than any teacher before or since and the limited French I know was learned in her 7rh grade class), Ms. Scott, Coach Meadows, Coach Wheat, Ms. Truesdale, Ms. Lynch, and others…all essentially “tattooed” into my mind forever. Pic’s take me back to my time in their classes. Has it really been over 40 years?

  27. “Jackets, Jackets do your stuff,
    Make ‘em say that they have had enough.
    Make ‘em say the Jackets never bluff.
    Jones Junior High Fight Fight!”

    This was our fight song sung to the tune of “Happy Days Are Here Again.” I believe the words were written by Miss Ruthie Giles who taught me speech in the 7th grade, which was then @ the old Gardiner High School Building. I attended 8th and 9th grade there and played in the band on that stage. Mrs. Hayes, Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Smith, JImmy Cox, Miss Truesdale, Mr. Watkins, Coach Wheat, Miss Thomas…Good teachers…Good times…

    • your memories are priceless! Thanks for sharing!

    • OMGoodness. I now remember that song. As I remember it – we didn’t have air conditioning or was that at the 7th grade level?

  28. I attended Jones Jr. High from from 1952 to 1955..I was born and raised in Laurel and left there at the age of 17. The only teacher I remember by name is Mrs. Giles and she taught Public School Music..I loved that class and will never forget it.
    I have enjoyed seeing all these photos of so many years passed. Lot of beautiful memories..

  29. Thanks for sharing the photos…as I looked at the one view of the lockers down in the basement I think I can see that first locker I ever had…and today I still use the same lock I bought that year from the school each time I go the gym. Lots of memories…great teachers..Mrs. Scott for math, Mrs. Stone for history, Mrs. Hayes for Mississippi history and Civics and of course we all had a crush on Coach Saul for math…as they’ve said GO YELLOWJACKETS!

    • Wonderful memories! It’s wonderful that you still remembered where you locker was. I looked for mine once, at NEJ and couldn’t find it.

  30. Fond memories!!!!
    Found I liked girls while there, football was great, running the stands at the Wisner Building for basketball, the spring of Coach Norman Minton spring training, Coach Taylor’s Industrial Arts, French with MS Polk. We were there in 1963 when we learned of President Kennedy’s assassination. Seemed we grew up a lot in a short time span. I still love the beautiful school and campus.

  31. Thanks so much for sharing the photographs….I had so many memories come to mind while looking at these. I even remembered people I have not thought about in years….

    Thanks for giving a blast from the past!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed them. I had so much fun taking them, and imagining my dad walking down those same halls. It seems everyone has really fond memories of this beautiful school.

  32. Thank you so much for these pictures! You captured the endearing qualities of this grand building – I could almost remember the smell! My mother, I and my husband, Wyatt, and our three sons all attended Jones Jr. High. Later, after moving back to Laurel, I had the honor of teaching here as well – even with some who had earlier taught me. I have so many wonderful memories of school here, and I’m so glad you shared them with us!

    • I am so glad you enjoyed them. There’s just something about an old historic school, even empty you can imagine the life it once held, and will once again. I thought of MY daddy a lot when I was taking photos there.

  33. My Dad and I as well went to Jones. The chapel programs were special because we could actually have prayer and honor our country. Oh yea the Jagged Edj was discovered in chapel. The pictures were great and brought back memories. Go Yellow Jackets!

  34. Yet I am another former student, who went here in the late 70′s, 8th grader. I believe parents went here when they were in school and both of my sisters were students here. The pictures bring back so many memories and friends, some I have not seen since I changed schools in the 9th grade. I am so glad you shared these photographs they are beautiful and in almost every one I could remember something or someone. Mrs. Hicks the greatest PE teacher in the world (even though I had PE 1st period). Art class in the basement… so many more… Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I drive by the school everymorning on my way to work and wondered if they would ever repair it or if it would be torn down. I was glad to see the construction when they started and it has been neat to watch it go back together. Thanks again…

    • thank you for taking time to read and look thru the photos. I’m so glad they brought back such good memories for you. It was a golden time in our lives!

  35. I attended Jones in the 70′s. What a great time I had. The pictures are wonderful. It has been years since I’ve been in the school. Makes me want to go and explore. Thank you for bringing back a lot of great memories!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed them. It was such a beautiful building, and I’m glad it’s being preserved and will be used for the community once again.

  36. I loved going to this school even though it was only one year.I went to this school in 85-86.These pictures does bring back so much memories.

    • I’m so glad you got to look thru them and bring back good memories!

    • It seems like everyone has very fond memories of this special place. life changing events took place during the time of operation, like JFK’s assassination. You never forget where you are when something that significant happens, it’s forever intertwined in your memory.

  37. I remember being in Coach Jim Thomas’ science class and listening via the intercom to the broadcast of Alan Shepard’s journey as the first American into space.

  38. I, too, have fond memories of going to school at Jones in the mid-60s. I had forgotten about Garbo’s…and how could I…we lived directly behind it!

  39. This is AWESOME! I went there from 84-85 and seeing these pictures bring back so many memories. I remember having Mrs. Winnie Williams for History. The picture of the hallway with lockers takes me back to walking into her class from my locker. Thank you for these pictures and the wonderful memories that came flooding back.

    • You’re so welcome! I am so glad you liked the photos. I love going to historic places and thinking about the people that worked and studied there everyday. It seems like everyone has happy stories.

  40. I too went to school here 1960-1962. I remember Coach Joe Ashley, Mrs. Round, Miss Giles, Mr. Berry, going to Garbo’s for a dill pickle and so much more. Good memories–thanks so much for posting.

  41. Thanks for posting this! The pictures brought back lots of good memories. I went here from 1982-1984. I just showed the photos to my son, and I can’t wait to show them to my daughter, who is in middle school now. She won’t believe it!

  42. Another former student, who went here in the 70′s! Thank you so much for the pictures and memories. It does bring back some great times and people. I am so glad to read that it is going to be restored. Thank you for sharing. Your photographs are beautiful!

  43. These pictures bring back so many happy memories. In the first picture of the hall way, I remember having social studies, Mrs. Stone, English, Ms. Giles, and Math class. And the stairs leading down to the basement on the left I had a reading class, Mrs. Martin. Mr. Barry was principal. We assembled in that beautiful auditorium to watch skits, our junior high band concerts and to receive various awards. I can just hear all of the students singing “Happy Days Are Here Again”. I would venture to say that those old clocks were the same clocks we watched every day waiting for 3:00…Although the building appears to be empty. It is still full of loving memories, and happy days of time past. 1968-1969 Yellow Jacket!

    • I also had many of the same teachers. Mrs. Giles was wonderful, but I still don’t know how she talked me into going on stage alone and sing. I also had Mrs.Martin, another great teacher. I remember a day that I walked out of her class and someone laughed at me for taking reading. Knotty Bond set that kid straight, so even then we has some students who where bullies and others who were heroes. I loved the old speed reading machine she used and later in life taught an adult speed reading class. One class I loved was Mrs. Stone’s history class and the booklets we made of each state. Once again as a teacher I used her idea. All the teachers were wonderful, the building beautiful, and the memories fantastic. There have been times I have had dreams and I was walking down the halls, always, wishing I could go back and visit. Thank you so much for making my dream come true. Those were “Happy Days”!:)

    • great memories, thanks for sharing! I agree, I bet those are the same old clocks. They looked sturdy enough to withstand many years of service!

    • what wonderful memories you have! It was an idyllic time and place it sounds like. So glad you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for sharing your memories!

    • great memories, thanks for sharing! I agree, I bet those are the same old clocks. They looked sturdy enough to withstand many years of service!

  44. I attended Jones Jr High in the early 50′s. The pictures bring back many fond memories and show the beauty of the school. Reminded me of Spanish hacienda with the reddish tile flooring. Really a beautiful place to go to school.

  45. I taught here in the 70′s and seeing this lovely old place warms my heart. Here, I made lasting friends and wonderful memories of students and events. When we were transferred to another city, I was so sad to leave my school and Laurel. You have given so many of us a pictorial memory of a beautiful place and time. Job well done.

    • Thank you so much. I am so glad that these photos brought back good memories for you. I surely enjoyed taking them. I could have stayed for hours!

    • Oh, Ms Carr! How great to see your name!!! What fond memories! If you are on FB, you have many students that would enjoy connecting with you like we have is Ms Cora Seals!

  46. I was born and raised in Laurel and attended this school. What a grand job you did with the story and photography! It took me “HOME”.

  47. What a cool old school. Great images. I love to photograph old buildings too so I’m way jealous! :-)

  48. I enjoyed this. You should send it to our local newspapers.

    • thank you Martha. you are always so sweet!

      • Some of the best times in my life were spent in this wonderful building. Thanks for the memories. I can take you to the very spot where I was standing, at Jones Jr. High, when I heard that President Kennedy had been shot. My wonderful mother in law still lives across the street on Euclid Avenue. I have often wanted to walk over into Jones Jr. High and look around. Thanks for taking the pictures. GREAT MEMORIES, of a great time in history.

        • It sounds like you have some amazing stories to share. I am so glad that you enjoyed the photos. It is a beautiful place and I’m so glad it’s going to be preserved!Thank you for sharing!

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