The Mary C. Today - Room for the Arts

Thanks to generous contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, and local, state and federal government agencies, the renovation of the Mary C. is nearing completion.  Each room is a multi-use space that can meet a wide variety of needs.  Individuals and organizations can schedule special events, meetings, recitals and more! The official groundbreaking for the renovation took place on August 6, 2002.  The beautiful lobby area houses the spectacular1937 WPA tile murals painted by James McConnell Anderson and fired by Peter Anderson and now lovingly restored and protected.  Construction is underway for the Café where professional chefs will offer instruction in the culinary arts.  A sponsor is needed for the Textile Room to support fiber arts, quilting, sewing, knitting and crafts and for the renovation of the office.  

The Senator Trent Lott Performing Arts Theatre is the result of a major renovation and addition to the former public school auditorium.  The renovation included new fixtures, equipment, lighting and elegant seating and restored the original 1927 trim colors.  The addition widened the wings and provided essential spaces necessary for a full-featured theater including a three-story fly space (the area where scenery is hoisted and manipulated), a two-story work area, dressing rooms, bathrooms, and a mezzanine.  The Theatre is home to the Mary C. O’Keefe Youth Symphony and The Walter Anderson Players.  Reproductions of the original Walter Anderson Canvas Murals that once graced the walls of the theatre were commissioned and placed in 2007, made possible by the Family of Walter Anderson.  

The HOSA Meeting and Conference Room is sponsored by the Historic Ocean Springs Association.  Appropriately, HOSA was the first organization to adopt and sponsor a room.  The HOSA room provides general use space that has already hosted conferences, workshops, craft sessions, and breakfasts. This room offers the best example of the restored original red pine floor. 

The Albert Duckett Gallery features a permanent wall dedicated to the Gallery’s namesake, illustrator and artist Albert Duckett.  The two-room gallery features the work of a different regional artist three times each year.  The Gallery is sponsored by Bruce Duckett.

The A. Anderson Pottery Room houses eight potter’s wheels for learning and practicing throwing clay.  Hand building clay classes are held around the generously sized table.  Funding for the pottery room and the kiln building were provided by the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce. 

The Elizabeth Lemon Roberts Room for Education is sponsored by the Ocean Springs Rotary Club and provides space for study and classes.  It also functions as a tutoring room for local students.  The Roberts Family has established a foundation to provide computers and other equipment from the sale of Giclée postcard prints from The Way Were by Elizabeth Roberts and J. K Lemon, making it possible to offer computer-based classes and workshops.

The Hayne Rudolf Sculpture and Papier Mâché Room focuses on sculpture in a variety of media, including papier mâché.  Hayne's sculpture and hand made masks donated by the family are exhibited.

The J. K. & Eleanor Lemon Woodcarving Room is a wood carving workshop that also houses works owned by J. K. and Eleanor Lemon and work by Willie Lemon, James McConnell Anderson, the Orwin Scarr family, and Joe Milstead.  When you visit, look for the original classroom blackboards that have been preserved.   

The Jimmy C. Trainor Performing Arts Room focuses on all aspects of the stage and provides space for rehearsals, classes, and meetings of the Walter Anderson Players.  The room features the Sandra Halat Performing Hearts mural. 

The Scharr-Ello Music Room for Practice, Education and Recording is named in honor of Dr. Joseph Ello and in memory of Orwin and Ruth Scharr. It is sponsored by Travis and Alex Scharr, Bradley Dale, and Daniel Lorrain with the musical talents of their friends and support of their families.  The Studio is available to local musicians to record their music.  Sound technicians mix and master professional soundtracks.  Soon, the studio will offer both audio and video editing.

The City of Ocean Springs Museum celebrates the City's rich 300-year history in two rooms on the second floor.  Open Now 10am-12pm; 1pm-4pm Tuesday thru Fri.

The Visual Arts Room – Renovation was sponsored by Fred Moran.  Formerly the school library, this room was chosen for the painting room because of the north light. Classes include watercolors, oils, acrylics and ballroom dancing.

Things to see at The Mary C.

  • The James McConnell Anderson Tile Murals, 1937
  • Honey Locust Hickory Table crafted by Greg Harkins, Official Rocking Chair maker to the White House
  • Stig Marcusson's Watercolor Prints, 2003
  • The Lobby Chairs - The original auditorium chairs given a lively new role as functional hallway seating, painted by Krys Byrd, Sandra Halat, Mary Hardy, Chris Logan, Judy MacInnis, Betty Magee, Erica Rushing, Mariah Rushing, Norma Seward, Melanie Spiers
  • The Groundbreaking Shovels, 2000 Designed and created by Joan Armstrong, Pat Bernstein, Annette Blocker, Corrine Carter, Hanneke Gast, Barbara Guin, Stan Hemby, Roberta Little, Chris Logan, Judy Mac Innis, Betty Magee, Pat Odom, Shane Sekul, Norma Seward, Chris Stebly, Sally Wilson
  • Walter Anderson Tiles in Restrooms
  • Handmade Paper Creations by Stan Hemby
  • The Farrand Pump Organ donated by Kay Dawkins Carvin in honor of her father, Bobby Lee Dawkins
  • The Bob & Virginia Meyer Fountain dedicated in honor of the Meyers by the Historic Ocean Springs Association

The School Building

The 20,600 square foot building was erected in 1927 by William T. Nolan  The building was originally a public school and was designated a Mississippi Landmark in 1998 by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and was officially listed on the National Park Services Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Before renovations began, the old public school was listed as one of the ten Most Endangered Buildings in Mississippi in 2000.  We're proud that it has since been removed from that list.

The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education is named in honor of Miss Mary C. O’Keefe, the first female superintendent of Mississippi schools in 1929.  Her tenure as an educator and principal at Ocean Springs spanned from 1927 to 1945.  This strong and impressive woman set a precedent for the Ocean Spring School System which is evident today in our Level 5 schools and superior instructors. 

This historic building has been rescued from ruin and put to use as the focal point of the public arts community in Ocean Springs and the surrounding area.  Building on that accomplishment and the exciting work already in progress, there's more on the horizon. 

The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education is a non-profit organization maintaining a 501[c] 3 status (Tax ID 64-0915116)




Historic marker on Government Streer at The Mary C.

The former Ocean Springs Public School
Ocean Springs Public School circa 1927

The Mary C. in 2005
The Mary C. Today

The Bob & Virginia Meyer Fountain donated by the Historic Ocean Springs Association
The Bob & Virginia Meyer Fountain donated by  the Historic Ocean Springs Association.

Miss Mary C. O'Keefe
Miss Mary C. O'Keefe


First floor plan for The Mary C

Click the image to open a larger version in a new window.


Second floor plan for The Mary C

Click the image to open a larger version in a new window.


The Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education    1600 Government Street, Ocean Springs, Mississippi 39564    228.818.2878    228.818.2886 fax   info@themaryc.org