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Restored Newell School Frames Poignant Memories

Oxford’s efforts to remember and learn from the hurt of racial segregation have taken a step forward. At an open house Sept. 29, former students and residents of the Newell School were on hand to tour the renovated one-room schoolhouse.

The school was used to educate African American students during the Jim Crow era before it closed in 1956.

Jeanette and Jesse Phillips
Jeanette and Jesse Phillips

Jeannette and Jesse Phillips, partners in ownership of the Oxford Eagle, renovated the Newell School and were on hand to greet guests. The Phillips greeted guests, seated by a small wood/coal burning stove which was used to heat the school.

“Jesse and Jeanette Phillips have provided almost unparalleled leadership to the Ole Miss and Oxford community for nearly a half century,” said Ed Meek, CEO of New Media Lab LLC, which operates Hottytoddy.com. “Jeanette was an outstanding teacher at Ole Miss and founder of the National Food Service Management Institute while Jesse served as Publisher of the Oxford Eagle. Jesse, a Journalism graduate at Ole Miss, was also mentor to many young journalists and businessmen, including me.”

African American students in grades 1-8 attended the school on a hill east of Oxford across from Campground Road on Country Road 405 on property now owned by the Phillips. The restored school is believed to be the last standing one-room schoolhouse in Lafayette County.

Frank Gipson of Greenwood, MS, was among a large crowd to attend the reception held for Newell School students. Mr. Gipson was one of five students in the first grade in 1952.

Frank Gipson, Newell School student
Frank Gipson, Newell School student

Despite rain, a large crowd of former Newell students, from a wide area as well as local residents attended the reception.

Lafayette County History and long time Oxford Eagle contributor, Jack Mayfield, welcomed guests to the reception. Mr. Mayfield also blogs for HottyToddy.com.

Ms. Mary Wortham of Oxford registered guests. Ms. Wortham once lived in the building that was the one-room school, which was converted to a residence with two rooms attached.

To view pictures of the Open House, click below.

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