Rehabilitation of The Mansion - John W Boddie House
Historical Research & Preliminary Planning


The Robert O. Wilder Building, also known as "The Mansion", stands in the center of the Tougaloo College campus, overlooking the ensemble of buildings forming the college's historic core. The Mansion holds important architectural and historical significance for the college, the community of Jackson and the state of Mississippi. Originally constructed in 1860 as the home of a wealthy cotton planter and the centerpiece of his plantation, The Mansion became the nucleus for one of the first schools established in Mississippi to educate and train freed slaves. As a significant example of
antebellum architecture, the Mansion's Italianate design represents a departure from the Greek.

Revival style prevalent in the design of southern plantation homes prior to the Civil War. As the central building of Tougaloo College for over 130 years, The Mansion served as a dormitory, the president's residence, a faculty residence, a classroom building, the library, and an administrative office building. The Mansion's presence has shaped the lives of those who have lived and worked within the Tougaloo community and its' architectural and historical significance help establish the identity of Tougaloo College as a special place.

Through an extensive on-site investigation process, WFT Architect researched the building's history, documented its configuration and analyzed its condition. A detailed historic finish analysis revealed the chronology of the building's paint schemes since its construction. Through meetings with Tougaloo administration and staff, a program was developed for the building's eventual reuse and a strategy was developed to guide its rehabilitation.

The Mansion will be renovated to house the President's office on its second floor with more public functions such as meeting rooms and a reception center on its first floor. The many additions and alterations currently obscuring The Mansion's beauty and usefulness will be removed to reclaim the large, open rooms of the building's original plan. From the fine detail of the exterior woodwork to the intricate plaster moldings of the stair hall, the exterior and interior details and colors of the building will be carefully restored to reflect their design during the early years of the college.

It was determined in the project's initial planning phase that circumstances would not allow the College to complete the entire project at one time. WFT Architects helped Tougaloo devise a phased renovation plan that would allow the work to be undertaken as funding became available. WFT Architects has also assisted Tougaloo in writing several grant applications in their search for funding The Mansion's rehabilitation.


Rehabilitation Phase One & Two                        Final Documentation Photography


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