Honoring the legacy of one man, while serving 100,000 others, the Ogletree House is a landmark on the Hattiesburg campus of The University of Southern Mississippi.
The Ogletree House was originally built as the President’s Home for Mississippi Normal College. At a cost of $18,000, it was opened in 1912 and is one of the five original buildings on the Hattiesburg Campus of The University of Southern Mississippi. The building served as the home for the first five presidents of the institution until 1975. In 1976, the Alumni Association, utilizing a campaign chaired by Hattiesburg physician Lamar Gillespie and with the faithful service of then Alumni Director Powell Ogletree, launched an effort to raise $200,000 to build a new home for the University’s president. Given that the Alumni Association would generate the funding for a new president’s home, the University allocated the existing structure to the Alumni Association for use as the new Alumni House.
On August 20, 1987, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, commonly known as the College Board, approved a request from then Southern Miss President Aubrey K. Lucas to have the facility named the Ogletree House in honor of Powell G. Ogletree who had announced his retirement from the University effective October 31, 1987. The Ogletree House was dedicated on November 7, 1987, honoring Powell’s 34 years of service to Southern Miss as director of alumni relations.
In 2005, the Association launched the Ogletree House Campaign, a fund-raising effort to completely restore and greatly expand the facility. More than 850 alumni and friends of the University contributed more than $3.25 million and construction began in 2008. On Sept. 11, 2009, a ribbon cutting officially reopened the doors of the Ogletree House to the public.
On Sunday, February 10, 2013, an EF-4 tornado ripped through Hattiesburg, devastating more than 700 homes in Forrest and Lamar counties and causing significant damage to the southern edge of the Southern Miss campus. One of the buildings that received heavy destruction was the Ogletree Alumni House. Most of the devastation to the facility occurred on its southeast side, where the roof and walls were blown away, and the front columns, bricks and windows at the front of the building were also severely damaged. The tornado presented Southern Miss with some difficult challenges, but the campus community and the Southern Miss Alumni Association staff stepped up to overcome each obstacle, proving that those associated with the University are resilient.
On September 5, 2014 the Southern Miss community celebrated the post-tornado reopening of the Ogletree House.
Today, the Ogletree House is available for rent once again to approved Southern Miss departments, students, alumni, community groups and individuals. Reservations are taken on a first-come, first-served basis.