Booneville, Mississippi

Booneville is located in the northeastern corner of Mississippi and used by the aborigines as a place of refuge from storms because of protection offered by the southwest by the Tippah Hills. Populated with emigrants from Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Alabama, and named for settler Colonel Reuben Boone listed in the town’s first census, it owes its existence to the building of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. Initially planned in 1848 and finally completed in 1858, Booneville is the highest point on the railroad line. 

 

Minutes of the 1860 Tishomingo County Twelfth Administration notes, "Booneville, a new town on the Mobil and Ohio Railroad, has been growing rapidly."  Families initially settled near the aboriginal Natchez Trace and on the waterways were seeing a new and better transportation for their products. By the year 1860, Tishomingo County was one of the wealthiest counties in the South and Booneville incorporated in 1861 just as the Civil War began. The Civil War and Reconstruction affected Booneville’s growth during that decade. 

 

In 1870, Booneville was named the county seat for Prentiss County. The governing bodies of Booneville and Prentiss County worked on a "cooperative plan of official service" (county and local government was incorporated as one from 1870 to 1894). The first Prentiss County Courthouse and the courthouse and jail were built on the Courthouse Square, while the old post office was built west of the courthouse.

 

Attorneys' and accountants' offices, commercial businesses, civic institutions, and transportation buildings were erected on the south and southwest sides of the Courthouse Square. Originally, College Street was named Front Street because it fronted the northern side of the railroad, running on the southern side of the Courthouse Square. The most significant street for its architectural character is Main Street. Market Street has maintained most of its architectural significance while Church Street is the least architecturally significant of the three streets.

 

Booneville continued to grow through the first decades of the 20th century. In 1905, the courthouse was enlarged. In 1922, the first electric downtown streetlights were installed. It was not until 1925 that commercial, government, industrial and transportation buildings and most residences had electricity as well. By 1924, Booneville  had two newspapers,  approximately  25 retail stores, two lumber mills, three gins, three grist mills, one sawmill, a brick and tile yard, two wholesale groceries and a wholesale and retail floral enterprise. 

 

Modern steel frame construction technology changed the way buildings were constructed in downtown Booneville. In 1924, Doctor W. H. Sutherland, founder of the first hospital in Booneville and northeast Mississippi in 1917, used this new technology to erect a four-story low-rise skyscraper downtown facing the river. The tallest building in Booneville, the old Sutherland Medical building provided office space for doctors, dentists and other medical services.

 

The development of significant buildings during the 1940's was sparse due to emphasis on supporting World War II. In ca. 1943, 101 and 103 West Church Street were erected, and in ca. 1948, 203, 205, & 209 West Church Streets [Inventory # 6] and 315 West Church Street were the last buildings of this period to be erected. Thus, the year 1948, is an appropriate point to end the historic period of significance.