Stories of the South - Clay County Agricultural High School Pheba, MS

Pheba Agricultural High School Hickory Ridge Studio

Finally a post of some substance this week!  I grew up in west Clay County about 15 miles from Pheba.  Our mail came from there and my parents pass through every day on the way to work and I made the same trip through Pheba every day for college.  I still have several friends that live there, so I have to show you some of the neat stuff that's there. 

Pheba was a railroad town, and was a lot bigger around the turn of the century than it is now. They had a bank, sizeable wood frame post office (now torn down, pity), several stores, businesses, and a boarding school.

If you've ever been through Pheba I know what you’re thinking.  Pheba had a boarding school?  Well they did and it was an Agricultural High School.  Let me explain. 

In the early 1900s a rural country school only took you to the 8th grade.  If you wanted to pursue "higher education" what we know as a high school education now, you had to go to school in town.  Most kids growing up in rural Mississippi would not have this opportunity.  In 1908 the Mississippi Legislature passed laws that allowed counties to establish agricultural high schools.  Almost every county in Mississippi had one between 1908 and 1930.  These schools served as a central boarding school for rural students who wanted a secondary education.  They were to have dormitories for boys and girls and teach farming and trades to boys and home economics to girls.  They also offered the regular curriculum of math, history, and science.  There was tuition, but they did charge room and board to dormitory students.  Students could earn money to pay for their board by working on the school farm or campus.   These agricultural high schools provided a secondary education when you couldn’t just jump on a bus and head to school.  The road system in Mississippi at the turn of the last century was poor at best, few owned cars anyway, and going to town every day was just not common place for most rural families.  They made their living on the farm and the time and expense just could not be spared. 

As the years went by, roads improved, and vehicles became more common place, these agricultural high schools either became consolidated into the county school system, some went on to become junior colleges, and the rest were closed. There are a very few of the original AHS buildings left and Pheba has one. It's been closed for years. I remember when I was a young girl we had a 4-H achievement day there once. It had beautiful wooden floors, tall ceilings, a second story we were not allowed to see, and it was hotter than all Hades.

Pheba Agricultural High School Hickory Ridge Studio

I was pleasantly surprised to drive by a couple of weeks ago and see it was being renovated! Not only that, is it a designated state landmark. The county received a grant and the interior and exterior has been repaired.  It was built in 1909 and I am so happy to see that the county has decided to save it.  I would love to know the long term plans for it and you know maybe have a tour of the interior one day….

If anyone can hook me up with that I would be so grateful.

Pheba Agricultural High School Hickory Ridge Studio

There are a couple of these around Macon too, so I’ll have to make sure to get out and take some pictures of them.  I was so happy to finally find out some info on this beautiful building. 

If you would like to read more about the agricultural high schools and junior colleges in Mississippi, please take a look at this link.   

Pheba Agricultural High School Hickory Ridge Studio

 That's all for now my lovelies!  Enjoy the rest of your day. 


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