According to Meridian fire marshal, Gower Webb, agencies that investigated the fire at the old Baptist Seminary on Sept. 16, in Meridian were unable to determine what started it due to the extent of the damage.
The Meridian Fire Department, Meridian Police Department and the ATF all participated in the investigation.
The building at 1526 Martin Luther King Drive was owned by the East Mississippi State Baptist Convention. It had not been used for almost ten years because of safety concerns.
Established in 1905, the seminary had historic significance as the first place in Mississippi to offer high school diplomas to African-American students. During the 1980s, it was placed on the National Register for Historic Places. However, funding to restore the building never developed.
Webb noted in his report that neighbors said the building had been unsecure for a long time, with transients and children coming and going at will.
The Meridian Fire Department urges all property owners to secure their property when it’s not occupied.
Webb said anyone with information is asked to call the Meridian Fire Department at (601) 485 1824.