There’s a saying, “To see what few have seen, you must go where few have gone.” In a few weeks, on Saturday, November 12, you will have the opportunity to go where few have gone (at least legally) when the Archaeological Conservancy holds an Open House at Jefferson County’s Prospect Hill.
For those just coming to this story, Prospect Hill has been on the MissPres radar, thanks to some of its advocates, since 2009, and the property was listed on the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered List earlier this year. Not “just” another Greek Revival antebellum house, Prospect Hill is the center of a complex story of slavery and hope, murder, arson, lengthy legal maneuvers, and the re-colonization of Liberia by a group of Mississippi freed slaves.
In fact, we’ve had three previous posts about Prospect Hill, if you want to catch up:
- An Important House Needs Our Help
- An Important House Needs Our Help, Part II
- New Hope for Prospect Hill?
In that last post, we congratulated the Archaeological Conservancy for its recent acquisition of this highly significance but highly endangered house and a few surrounding acres. Since then, Jessica Crawford at the AC has been working like a busy bee to cut back the overgrowth that had begun to choke the building and has rounded up a few friends to help haul away trash and clean up the road into the rural property. Well, “rural property” doesn’t really capture Prospect Hill–you’ll see when you go out there that it’s the perfect place for those of us who really just want to get away from it all!
Now that the weather is cooling down, Jessica is holding an Open House on November 12 to introduce the place to preservationists from around Mississippi and Louisiana (and anywhere else y’all are coming from). I know I’ll be there to see the progress and hear about plans for the future stabilization, and I hope you’ll make a trip of it too. Make sure to bring your spirit of adventure, and your checkbook to help a good Preservation in Mississippi cause!
Here’s Jessica’s press release–make your reservations now!
Picture this: A plantation in rural Jefferson County, Mississippi, founded by a Revolutionary War captain in the early 1800s, who left instructions in his will that the plantation be sold and the proceeds used to send those among his slaves who wished to go to the West African colony of Liberia. The plantation house is burned down in 1845 by the slaves who have grown restless waiting for those instructions to be carried out. A six year old girl dies and the alleged slave instigators are hanged in the yard. The remaining slaves make their journey to a colony in Liberia named Mississippi, and the planation house is replaced in 1854. Now, the surrounding forest has encroached upon the house and its garden of antique camellias and in the family cemetery, the massive marble columned monument to the original owner has survived several close encounters with falling trees, but the house has not. Now, that house is inhabited by a peacock who has lived there alone for almost 7 years. Only in Mississippi’s old Natchez District can one find a place like this and on November 12th, those wishing to visit Prospect Hill Plantation can do so and help aid its preservation as well.
On Saturday, November 12, 2011, the Archaeological Conservancy, which purchased the plantation and a few surrounding acres, will have special guides and speakers giving tours and lectures on various aspects of the plantation and its history. Including Alan Huffman, journalist and author of Mississippi in Africa, the book which documented the saga of Prospect Hill and its slaves; David Preziosi, Executive Director at the Mississippi Heritage Trust; Jennifer Baughn, Chief Architectural Historian with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History; Mr. James Belton, a descendant of the Prospect Hill slaves and Ann Brown, local cemetery preservationist, both of whom were featured in Huffman’s book; Jessica Crawford, Southeast Regional Director for The Archaeological Conservancy; and several descendants of the Ross Family.
The Conservancy is asking for a tax deductible donation of $20 per person to help with the expenses of emergency stabilization work on the house. There will be two tours. One at 1:00 and another at 2:30. If you’d like to attend, the Conservancy is asking that you call or email to reserve the number of spots you need and someone will email or snail mail directions. You may call or email the Conservancy’s Southeast Office at 662-326-6465 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If no one answers, you can leave a message on the answering machine and someone will call you back to confirm that your call was received. Remember that at the moment,
Prospect Hill is a diamond in the rough. Places for parking have had to be cleared and it was mowed for the first time in 5 years this summer! So be prepared for an adventure. If it rains or has rained recently and is still wet, the tours will be rescheduled. This is the same weekend as Angels on the Bluff, so those with tickets for the Saturday night Angels tours should have time to get to Natchez for that. Prospect Hill is about 15 minutes east of Lorman, a 45-minute drive from Natchez, about 20 minutes from Port Gibson, and approximately an hour and a half from Jackson. So plan to do some exploring, have lunch with Mr. Davis at the Old Country Store in Lorman and visit a beautiful, historic place that few people have seen!
Later note: If you can’t make it and would still like to get involved in the efforts to stabilize and repair Prospect Hill, or perchance you would like to buy this historic property, contact:
|The Archaeological Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office
P.O. Box 270
Marks, MS 38646
Categories: Historic Preservation