MSA celebrates Elizabeth Cottage renovation
Mississippi School of the Arts celebrated a milestone in the renovation of Elizabeth Cottage during a dedication ceremony recently. The ceremony marked the completion of the first floor interior of the building made possible by private donations.
In conjunction with the MSA Foundation, MSA launched a comprehensive naming campaign to leverage donations for the restoration and preservation of buildings on the historic Whitworth College Campus, with interior spaces named for donors.
Two spaces in Elizabeth Cottage were dedicated at the ceremony. The Elizabeth Cottage Dining Area was renamed the Benjamin L. Spearman Dining Room by Phyllis Spearman, who sponsored the space in memory of her husband.
The Sam and Zula Moreton Family Room, a reception area, was dedicated in memory of Sam and Zula by their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who contributed collectively to the fund.
Suzanne Hirsch, executive director of MSA, expressed appreciation for the support received from the Moreton and Spearman families and others like them.
“We’re very honored that the community members believe in our campus and want to be a part of its restoration and preservation,” Hirsch said. “The Moreton and Spearman families have been champions for our school.”
Hirsch said there are about five spaces left in Elizabeth Cottage that she hopes to name during this public phase of the campaign. The second floor restorations will start this summer, Hirsch said, and they are looking to finish within a year.
When complete, Elizabeth Cottage will house classrooms as well as a guest artist long-term residency program. The program will give artists the opportunity to live on MSA’s campus for the purpose of making art and teaching a class in lieu of room and board expenses. This type of program is attractive and beneficial to many artists looking to produce work, and can be mutually beneficial for MSA as commissioner of the work.
“When it goes out into the art world, Brookhaven and MSA goes with it,” Hirsch said.
The interior of Elizabeth Cottage is phase two of the building’s renovation. Phase one, the exterior, was completed with help from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program. Designated as a Mississippi Landmark, the campus is also on the National Register of Historic Places.