Bricks fall from old Sadie V. Thompson gymnasium building during storm; road closed as a precaution

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2024

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NATCHEZ — A shower of bricks came crashing to the ground from the old gymnasium building the Thompson School building on West Stiers Lane on Monday afternoon during the period of high winds and thunderstorms.

Natchez Police Chief Cal Green said the road near the school building is closed as a precaution.

“There are other bricks on that building that it’s just a matter of time before they fall. If a car happens to be passing by when those remaining bricks fall, it could cause a serious problem,” Green said.

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The Natchez-Adams School District no longer owns the building, which opened in 1954 or 1955, said Phillip West, school board member and member of the Sadie V. Thompson Era Reunion, a non-profit group that has hopes of saving the school building.

Ownership of the building, which once housed the gymnasium, auditorium and cafeteria at Thompson School, was transferred to the Thompson Era Reunion group in 2001 or 2002, West said.

“We are trying to save it,” he said. It last housed the now-defunct Boys and Girls Club for a number of years, but because of roof leaks and the deteriorating condition of the building, that program moved to the former Margaret Martin School. The program no longer operates in Natchez.

“We did hire an architect, and it was designated as a historic building. We had the opportunity to receive $100,000 for a 25 percent match and were working to come up with that match when we learned it would take close to a million dollars to get the roof done. We have neglected to be able to find resources to upgrade or refurbish it or that kind of thing. We would really like to save the building. We just have not come up with anything concrete at this particular point,” West said.

He said the group has hired someone to remove the bricks that fell into the road and sidewalk.