Huff Hall in 1913
Huff Hall as it appeared in 1913. It was the first building on the Perkinston Campus.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is celebrating 110 years of educational excellence this year. The college traces its beginning to Harrison County Agricultural High School, which opened its doors in 1912 at what is the Perkinston Campus today.

“The Perkinston institution began in a single structure on a hilltop in Perkinston on September 17, 1912. At dark on that night, Superintendent James Andrew Huff ordered the ignition of a farm tractor-dynamo, and Huff Hall lit up with the first electric lights to shine in Perkinston” said Charles Sullivan, MGCCC archivist and professor emeritus.  “Huff and his staff of three had then set to work teaching 63 students.”

Flash forward to 2022 when the lights still gleam in Huff Hall but with an electrical grid that connects nearly 100 buildings scattered across four counties.  Likewise, that electrical grid powers the computers which provide instantaneous communication among the personnel located in all those structures and connects them to the world via the internet.  President Dr. Mary S. Graham and her staff of almost 1,000 employees now serve nearly 9,000 students at 10 locations in George, Harrison, Jackson, and Stone counties.  In 110 years of evolutionary growth, periodically spurred by revolutionary change, the Harrison County Agricultural High School has become Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, an institution of national renown.

“Being the MGCCC archivist, I wrote the history of the institution and found that Perk began on September 17, 1912,” Sullivan said. “It has had many names since then, most of them very long, but the students at this campus have always called it “Perk” despite what the official name was.  When I discovered that it opened on September 17, 1912, I also knew that another South Mississippi institution opened on September 18, 1912. It has had many names, but today it is called The University of Southern Mississippi.  I called then-President Aubrey Lucas at Hattiesburg, and I told him, ‘I don’t want you to feel bad when you come from your red-brick university down here to our ivy-covered halls, but we have served the people of South Mississippi a whole day longer than your institution has.’ He replied with laughter.”

During the 2022 Homecoming celebration on October 15, the college will honor its humble beginnings with a reunion of the first students at the institution: those who attended the agricultural high school.

“The alumni who join the reunion celebration will be those who attended in later years since the high school didn’t close until May 1962. We want to honor the memory of how far the institution has come in its 110 years,” said Sullivan.  “Throughout its history, it has been an important educational resource for South Mississippi and continues to positively impact every individual in its four-county district and beyond.”

For more information on Homecoming 2022 events and reunion groups, visit



Share This Article