‘Old Main’ documentary recounts fateful day at MSU monument in January 1959

Contact: Harriet Laird

STARKVILLE, Mississippi—Mississippi State’s national award-winning college television center presents a short documentary on Sunday [Jan. 23] which will take viewers back over 60 years for a look at an iconic campus landmark.

“Old Main,” a tribute to MSU’s best-known building that burned down in January 1959, is an 11-minute film developed by the MSU Films initiative, a UTC project to tell stories of the institution through those who have witnessed it.

The short debuts on MSU’s Facebook page, @msstate, at 7 p.m. and will be simulcast on MSTV, the university’s high-definition television channel. Operated by UTC, the channel is available to MaxxSouth Broadband subscribers in the Golden Triangle and those with C Spire Fiber TV statewide on Channel 80. After the 7 p.m. premiere, viewers can find the production on movies.msstate.edu.

The production features an interview with a former college student who lived through the fiery demise of the colossal dorm, complete with footage from that night and aftermath. MSU Films also recreated scenes, recording a smoke-filled building and using actors as students who were part of the evacuation.

“Apparently the largest in America at the time, the Old Main dormitory has housed thousands of students over the decades. The massive fire changed everything on January 23, 1959, and this short documentary provides a first-hand account of that night, told through the words of a student who was there,” said David Garraway, director of the UTC.

Last year, MSU Films won a national Edward R. Murrow award for “The Last Supermarket,” an examination of a Mississippi Delta community that becomes a food dessert when its only grocery store closes.

According to Garraway, additional projects are on the way from MSU Films. These include an article titled “XIII” about alumni who played a pivotal role in 1970 bringing the Apollo 13 spacecraft safely back to Earth. “The Hungriest State,” a four-part miniseries of which “The Last Supermarket” is a part, will feature three more episodes in the coming months.

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