By Ruth McCoy
Burton, MS is home of the Old Burton Schoolhouse, located on Hwy 30, 12 miles east of
This property became a Mississippi Landmark in July 1995.
The school is significant in the history of education in Prentiss County not only for being one
of the earliest consolidated schools, but also for being one of the earliest brick school
buildings in rural Prentiss County - possibly the only one with solid brick walls (13" thick).
The Burton schoolhouse, constructed in 1922-1923, is a red brick, one story, hipped roof
structure, whose doors and windows have a double brick segmented arch. Exterior walls have
a triple layer of bricks. Interior brick walls have a plaster finish. All other walls, ceilings,
and floors are finished with tongue and groove lumber.
Dr. Bolivar Smith, whose medical office was in Burton, served as a general
practitioner for more
than 40 years. Recognizing the need for better school facilities, he donated 7 acres of land
(the deed now calls for 5 1/3 acres) on which to build the school.
Reputable people who lend historical significance to the school and have made meaningful
contributions to Prentiss County - and to the state of Mississippi - are former teachers: Mr.
Raymon T. Jarvis (a judge), Ms Rebecca Thompson (wife of Representative Jamie Whitten), and Mr.
Elmer McCoy (a state Representative who served four terms).
Mr. Lieuallen Riddle, a landholder and sawmiller, provided the first school transportation
(covered wagon pulled by mules).
After the school closed in 1958, it was not used at all for eight years. Then, it was leased to
a church as a place to worship from 1966-1982. In 1983 it was leased to five men from Burton to
be used as a Community Center. When the five year lease expired in 1988, it was not renewed.
At this time Ernestine Cunningham and the Burton Hunting Club led the way in trying to keep the
schoolhouse repaired and usable; however, with limited funds and lack of interest, it soon became
too much of a burden for a few people to deal with. Being without a caretaker put the schoolhouse
in serious jeopardy.
Planning for restoration of the Burton schoolhouse began in mid-December 1994 when Maxine and
Ruth McCoy, looking for a suitable place to have their family Christmas dinner, found the
schoolhouse in need of much repair. The roof, ceilings, and floors were heavily damaged but
Money was needed fast for stabilizing the building. Estimated cost to restore was $500,000. We
were not deterred. A community meeting was held on January 23, 1995, committees were appointed.
The next meeting would be on February 13, 1995 when every committee was expected to give a
report. Every committee did a great job.
At this meeting the Burton Community Historical Society was formed and officers were elected.
A motion was made to apply for listing as a Mississippi Landmark, in hopes of receiving federal
funds - none were received. But, in August of 1996 confirmation was received signifying that
Burton School had been declared a Mississippi Landmark. This recognition has brought prestige
and rejuvenation to the Burton community.
Every able-bodied person in Burton has assisted in the work. Early in the spring of 1995 we
started a massive cleanup inside and out of the old schoolhouse and were amazed at it's beauty.
A welcome sign was hung inviting everyone to our first event on the first Saturday in May, 1995.
Thus began "fund raising" which continued twice monthly until September, 1996 when work actually
began on the roof.
By this time, in excess of $30,000 ($3,325 were donations) had been raised. Hardly a drop in
the bucket of what was needed, but a great start.
In 1995 the legislature appropriated a grant of $250,000 for restoring old schoolhouses. Our
need was great so we applied for $250,000 and received $110,000 in the fall of 1996. Much has
been done and much remains to be done.
Plans are in progress for a "HOMECOMING CELEBRATION". You are invited.
HOMECOMING this year will be the 4th Sunday in September!!!!
For more information contact:
Burton Community Historical Society
C/o Ruth McCoy
211 C R 2229
Booneville, MS 38829