Maybe these last couple of sunny, on-the-cusp-of-Spring days have given you Spring Fever. If so, I’m here to help.
If you’re in Mississippi and it’s March, you know that a Spring Pilgrimage can’t be far behind. It took me a little while to get used to the idea of pilgrimages when I moved to Mississippi way back in the 1990s (wow, maybe I am old!), but once I went to one (in Natchez, of course), I was kind of hooked on the idea of getting to see the mostly private homes that I had only read about in architectural history books. As you may recall, last spring, I headed up to Columbus for my first pilgrimage there and loved Waverly the best, and then in the fall I drove up for a wonderful day in Carrollton, which was holding its first pilgrimage in a while.
As I’ve been trolling the internet for the various pilgrimage sites, I’ve come upon several from 2004 and 2005 for the Gulf Coast pilgrimage. I never got to attend that one, mostly just putting it off until the next year for one reason or another, and now I so often wish I had gone. You never know how long these treasures will be around–hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, all can take them away in a few minutes–so if you’ve never spent time at, say, the Aberdeen Pilgrimage, well make this the year you take the time to do it.
To make your lives easy and to help you decide which pilgrimage is best for you, I’ve placed the ones I can find on the MissPres calendar. As you can see, Natchez jumps right in with its month-long pilgrimage starting this Saturday, March 5, so make your plans soon! Following are blurbs about each pilgrimage. If I’ve missed one (or more) let me know and I’ll add it. As fate would have it, I’ll probably be unable to attend any of the early pilgrimages this year, so if you’re planning to go to one and would like to write up your thoughts for the MissPres universe, let me know and we’ll work something out.
- Natchez (March 6-April 10, 2010): “Twenty-five antebellum mansions, many of them private residences, open their doors to visitors during this five-week Pilgrimage every spring. Brilliant musical productions, theater, Gospel music, and historic presentations take the stage each evening.” Tickets cost $24/tour for adults ($18 for children), and each tour includes three houses. (see http://www.natchezpilgrimage.com/spring.htm)
- Vicksburg (March 11-April 5, 2010): “Tapestry will include interpretive presentations that tell the history of the city from antebellum grandeur to the turn of the 20th Century and even progressing into the 21st Century. In addition to regularly scheduled tour hours, 16 of Vicksburg’s most historic properties will tell their stories which together weave the Tapestry of what defines Vicksburg today. Those included in Tapestry are Anchuca Historic Mansion, Annabelle, Baer House, The Bazsinksy House, Duff Green Mansion, The Corners, Cedar Grove Mansion, Christ Episcopal Church, The Cobb House at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, The George Washington Ball House, The Jacqueline House, Linden Plantation Gardens, The Martha Vick House, The Mary Harwood House, The Shlenker House, and the Old Court House Museum.” Tickets are $25 for three homes/events or $10 for a single. (see http://www.mspress.org/pressreleases/2010/01/25/second-annual-tapestry-the-pilgrimage-to-vicksburg/)
- Columbus (April 5-17, 2010): Tours of about 20 historic homes, including National Historic Landmark “Riverview”–which wasn’t on tour last year and is completely worth the entire cost of the ticket–and four downtown churches. Tickets cost $18/tour and each tour includes three (sometimes four) houses. (see http://www.columbus-ms.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=601)
- Holly Springs (April 16-18, 2010): “Feast on antebellum splendor, local storytellers brimming with the colorful stories of Holly Springs’ past, costumed guides, Pilcher organ recitals in antebellum churches, gracious southern luncheons, tours of historic Hillcrest Cemetery guided by characters from Holly Springs’ past, free rides in antique carriages pulled by Percheron draft horses, one-of-a-kind arts & crafts as well as a traditional southern supper in one of our glorious mansions—Montrose!” Tickets, which include all tours and events on Friday and Saturday, are $35/person ($30 for those 65 or older). (see http://www.visithollysprings.com/pilgrimage.html)
- Aberdeen (April 22-25, 2010): Ten antebellum and Victorian-period homes will be on tour, plus the Monroe County Courthouse, one of only a handful of antebellum courthouses left in the state. Events will also be held at the First Missionary Baptist Church, the Elkin Theater, and the Aberdeen Cemetery. Tickets begin at $6/home, and are discounted the more homes you see, with all 10 homes costing $42. Some of the associated events are free, others have an extra cost. (see http://www.aberdeenpilgrimage.com)
Off to the Movies
If you can’t get away to a pilgrimage, maybe you could just go out for a movie. A documentary that looks interesting, called “God’s Architects” will be showing in Vicksburg and Jackson. According to the blurb:
This documentary tells the stories of five divinely inspired artist-architects and their enigmatic creations. The film details how and why these oft-marginalized creators, with neither funding for blueprints, construct their self-made environments–this film features Vicksburg’s own Reverend H.D. Dennis.
If you’ve never heard of Rev. Dennis, he has built a pretty famous roadside church or “theological park” out of a former country store on Highway 61 north of Vicksburg. The film is showing in Vicksburg at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center on March 11 at 6 PM and in Jackson at the Millsaps Ford Center on March 23 at 7 PM.
Serious (and probably some Not-So-Serious) Stuff
And in May, the bi-annual Mississippi Historic Preservation Conference meets in Natchez. Two days of sessions, tours, and I’m sure food and fellowship will take place May 6-7, and according to the Mississippi Heritage Trust website, “this year the conference will focus on historic preservation and sustainability featuring sessions on energy efficiency in historic buildings and preservation as a “green” movement.”
If you go to any of these events, make sure to use the secret MissPres handshake so we’ll all know who’s who.