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Centenary College

One of four major state Church schools existing prior to 1860.

Centenary College
Photo Credit - The Louisiana Office of State Parks


Centenary College stands as a monument to Louisiana's education, being one of four major state Church schools existing prior to 1860. The other three colleges were the College of St. Charles at Grand Coteau, the College of the Immaculate Conception at New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mount Lebanon University at Mount Lebanon. Centenary College, founded in 1839, had first been located in Clinton, Mississippi, then in Brandon Springs, Mississippi, before removing to Jackson in 1845. When Centenary College moved to Jackson in 1845 from Brandon Springs, Mississippi, it took over the physical plant of the College of Louisiana, which was being discontinued.

The East Wing at Centenary College was designed by a Captain Dalafield of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and built in 1832-33. The West Wing was built in 1837 as a duplicate of the East Wing. In 1857, at a cost of sixty thousand dollars, a large central building located between the two wings was erected, containing a sizable auditorium, library rooms and recitation rooms.

Although its former campus was a 3-building complex, now only the West Wing of the main building remains along with the "professor's house," as it was once known to students. The West Wing is two stories high, one room deep, with a two-story free standing colonnade encompassing the south front and east and west ends. Each floor was divided into 12 rooms, each with a front window and two rear windows. Chimneys were set between each pair of rooms, an arrangement that was later modified.

Centenary College, then proclaimed as a "church school," was the perfect replacement for The College of Louisiana. Unlike The College of Louisiana, Centenary College upheld a thriving record of enrolling students until the semester just before the Civil War. During the war, its buildings were used as a military hospital and to house Confederate troops. Consequently, it was during this time that the Greek Revival buildings of the school were considerably damaged. After the war, the college's fortunes declined, and in 1906 the trustees of the college and officials of the Methodist Church accepted the offer of a 40-acre site in Shreveport, and Centenary College moved to its present location.

Centenary College is located off Hwy 10 at E. College and Pine Sts. in Jackson. Operated by Louisiana State Parks, the Centenary College Commemorative Area is open daily 9:00am to 5:00pm, there is a fee for admission. Call 1-888-677-2364 for further information or visit the park's website.