Poplarville Lower Elementary shares tie with William Carey University

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2019

It’s a little known fact, but the spot where Poplarville Lower Elementary currently stands was the original location of what would later become William Carey University.

Poplarville School District Superintendent Carl Merritt said that discovery was made more than ten years ago when the District was making improvements to a section of the school that would provide an elevator and bathrooms near the school’s auditorium.

As crews began getting the foundation ready, they found a large hole near the site where the addition would be built, Merritt said. In that hole were concrete and wooden structures that appeared to have been scorched by fire, indicating that it was the basement to a prior structure that had been long forgotten after a fire destroyed it.

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Merritt said he passed that information on to the director of his alma mater, Dr. Tommy King at William Carey University. Staff at the university researched that location and determined it was where the Pearl River Boarding School stood, which was established in 1892. A fire in 1906 destroyed the building and the school was moved to Hattiesburg, where it was later renamed the South Mississippi College, William Carey College and finally William Carey University. The school was named William Carey College in 1954 when it was changed to a coed campus, said William Carey University Dean of Education Ben Burnett.

Poplarville Lower Elementary’s campus was later built on the site in 1922, Merritt said.

The addition to the Poplarville campus added an elevator near the campus’ auditorium to make it more accessible to handicapped students since the auditorium is on the second floor. Merritt said the bathrooms built into the addition are used by staff and students who work or attend classes in the resource rooms and classrooms on the second floor.