Mississippi College

Mississippi College Supporters Welcome New MC President’s Home

December 4, 2013

Construction of a new Mississippi College president’s home overlooking Olde Towne Clinton enjoys the strong backing of city leaders and university supporters months before opening its doors.

The four-bedroom residence is designed to be a convenient spot for President Lee Royce and future leaders to welcome faculty, staff, students, alumni, university friends and other guests on the Clinton campus.

The home will be located near MC’s new 22,000-square-foot medical sciences building along College Street and blend in nicely with the quaint shops, restaurants and bookstores on Olde Towne’s brick streets.

Mississippi College students are eager to see President Lee Royce and his wife, Rhoda, move in.

“It’s cool to have the president so close to campus for support and accessibility,” says MC senior Shelby Blank, 21, of Memphis. “It’s nice to see downtown Clinton thriving.”

The new president’s house will be one of Olde Towne’s cornerstones and make the city’s vibrant historic downtown district even more eye appealing, school supporters say.

“The new president’s home will add beauty to Olde Towne Clinton and be a great asset for the Royces to entertain and welcome guests into the warm and loving arms of Mississippi College,” said MC senior Lee McCarty of Meridian. “I’m anticipating great things.”

Presidential homes on college campuses nationwide are often used to entertain commencement speakers, a wave of political, business and artistic luminaries, international guests as well as university constituents.

“It will be such an asset to Mississippi College for Dr. Royce not only to invite alumni, faculty and staff to his home, but to invite students,” said MC Student Government Association President Edward Moak of Brookhaven. “It will provide Dr. Royce and Mrs. Royce the opportunity to connect with all of the MC family on a whole new level.”

MC junior Alanna Tedder of Meridian underscores the importance of the spacious residence as a much-utilized destination point for thousands of people on the Clinton campus for generations to come.

“It’s not just the president’s house,” she said. “I’m excited to see it. I’m watching the (construction) progress of it.”

The site is located at the corner of Capitol and Madison streets, a short walk from the home of Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher, who lives across from City Hall.

It was back in late May when a bulldozer demolished the site of the former Hilltop Theater to make way for the presidential residence. Hilltop Theater was once a popular Clinton movie house through the 1960s. After it was acquired by Mississippi College, the building was used as the university’s band hall starting in 1969. Later, it became a hub for college student musical groups. In recent years, the aging facility has been idle. The MC Board of Trustees approved the building’s razing after a lengthy study. A Mississippi College alumnus made a major gift to provide construction funds.

The president of Mississippi College since 2002, Dr. Royce and his wife, Rhoda, live in a university-owned residence in another part of Clinton.

Presidential homes on the Clinton campus are nothing new. MC President W.T. Lowrey’s first step to enhance the Clinton campus was to build a president’s home. In 1901, he pointed out that he was paying rent for a house in the Clinton community. With the OK of school trustees, Lowrey raised the funds and the house was built at the corner of College and Monroe Streets. It stood on what is the site of First Baptist Church Clinton.

A number of MC presidents have lived in homes on the Clinton campus through the 1990s.

Building a Mississippi College landmark at one of the gateways to Olde Towne will benefit nearby businesses, says Tara Lytal, director of Main Street Clinton. “The many visitors who will be entertained at the residence are sure to be charmed by the friendly atmosphere and historic beauty of the brick streets.”

Jan Cossitt, a Clinton city alderwoman, believes the prominent new structure is more than a visually appealing addition to Olde Towne. “It sets the tone for future development.”

Construction should be completed on the three-acre site by the spring. The president’s residence figures to be a perfect stop for alumni and others in October at the university’s 2014 Homecoming.

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