Brookhaven landmark damaged by car crash

Brookhaven landmark destroyed in crash

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (WLBT) - It was a quiet morning in Brookhaven, until a car ran out of control downtown.

“Sunday morning about 10:45 a driver rammed into and destroyed a column that sits in front of the Lampton Auditorium. The column is one of the historic markers that is still standing from Whitworth College from the early 1900s,” said Mississippi School of the Arts Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch.

It happened on the MSA campus, which is the old Whitworth College. The column was believed to have been built in 1927. A police report says the driver may have sideswiped another vehicle before hitting the landmark at a high rate of speed.

There’s now a tarp that covers the column and keeps it from degrading any further. Other bricks have been gathered up and taken inside to be preserved.

Brookhaven residents and historians say there’s a lot of history there.

“I know that my mother Ruth Bennett went to college here, she was a Methodist,” said Louis Burghard. “And it was Whitworth College and it was a girl’s college to start with.”

Ruth Bennett played the violin in an ensemble there, he said.

After Whitworth College, the campus was dormant for a while, until part of it was used as a halfway house. Now it’s MSA.

MSA officials posted photos on Facebook, along with the $8,000-10,000 estimate to get the landmark fixed. Even though the school has insurance through the state, it’s got a $500,000 deductible. That’s definitely more than the cost of the monument.

Putting it back up will take some detail work.

“The repairmen will have to take each brick apart, clean it, and then put it all back together,” said Hirsch.

For years, Brookhaven has rallied when the school has gone through various trials, and Hirsch says this time hopefully will be no different.

“Our community has shown up as they usually do in support of the school, so we received two grants and some individual support that’s close to the amount we need to get it going,” Hirsch said.

“I hope they build it back,” Burghard said.

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