Is it Fall yet?

Now that we’ve gotten rid of that horrible August, we can begin looking forward to fall in Mississippi, when the temperatures fall into the low 90s and the trees decide there’s no use pretending like they’re enjoying this anymore so why not just turn brown and drop their leaves?

Fall fills preservationists with renewed energy too, and there are plenty of events coming up that might get you interested in life again after this long, hot, dry summer whose chief virtue was that it did not involve an oil spill.

As always, I’ve placed the following events on the official MissPres calendar so that you can keep track of what’s going on.

Millsaps College is offering its Community Enrichment Series again, and this fall features three classes on the architectural history of Mississippi, all taught by MDAH architectural historian Todd Sanders.

Architectural History of Mississippi

Join Todd Sanders as he presents a detailed discussion of the architectural history of the state of Mississippi. Beginning with the years 1699-1800 and the oldest surviving structures of the first permanent inhabitants, the instructor will progress to the years 1800-1875 and the arrival of high style architecture. Next, he will discuss the years 1875-1945 when Mississippi moved toward the mainstream. The last lecture will focus on Mississippi’s participation in the modern movement in American architecture since World War II. A brief discussion of the historic preservation movement and where it is today in Mississippi will also be included.

Please note: 0.8 CEU for teachers is available for full attendance at this class. An additional $15 will be charged for the CEU certificate when the class ends.

Cost:  $60 (plus optional $15 materials fee); Tues., Sept. 20 – Oct. 11; 6:00-8:00 p.m.; 4 wks.

The Forgotten Era in Mississippi Architecture: Reconstruction to the Gilded Age

Few of us stop to think about the architecture of Mississippi immediately after the end of the Civil War and before the ornate, elaborate architecture of the so-called “Gilded Age” of the 1890s. While most folks believe that absolutely nothing of any consequence was constructed during this period, this does not appear to have been the case. In this class, we will examine the building environment of this period and discover that indeed many fine buildings were constructed and that many of them do survive. Topics covered in the class include the continued use of building forms and architectural styles from the antebellum period and their “evolution” to reflect changing tastes and needs, the introduction of new architectural styles and the development of new building forms, and also the impact that the revitalization of the railroads and their expansion had on the architecture of the period. Todd Sanders will teach this class.

Cost: $40; Wed., Sept. 21 – 28; 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. 2 wks.

Mississippi’s Antebellum Architecture: More Than Just Big, White Columns

This class will cover the architecture of Mississippi from its earliest manmade structures through the architecture of the Antebellum Period (roughly that time between the end of the Mexican American War, circa 1848, and the beginning of the Civil War in 1861) and ending with the buildings constructed right after the end of the war. While this class will cover the great mansions, churches, courthouses and other grand public buildings that most architecture aficionados are familiar with, much time will be spent going deeper into the architecture of this period to discuss buildings that often get ignored like schools, industrial buildings, and commercial buildings, as well as the houses of the middle class. As part of this discussion, the question will be asked “Why did some of these buildings survive and others not?” While the answer to this question is in some cases obvious such as “It was burned during the war” or burned later or destroyed by a hurricane, tornado or other “act of God”, many were intentionally destroyed while others, equally old, elegant and significant, were carefully preserved. It will be discovered that the architecture of Mississippi before the war was much more vibrant, varied and complicated than the “Moonlight and Magnolias” myth would have one believe. Also equally complicated is the struggle to preserve what survives and to document what is gone.

Please note:  0.8 CEU for teachers is available for full attendance at this class. An additional $15 will be charged for the CEU certificate when the class ends.

Cost:  $60 (plus optional $15 materials fee); Wed., Sept. 22 – Oct. 13; 6:00-8:00 p.m.; 4 wks.

Todd Sanders has a B.A. in history and a master’s degree in architectural history from Mississippi State University. He has worked as an architectural historian with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History since 1999.

Our friend Jessica Crawford, she of Prospect Hill fame has also been working like a busy beaver in the historic and mostly abandoned town of Rodney. If you’ve never been to Rodney, it is a must-see, even if the Natchez poll didn’t give it high marks. There are two old churches, the Presbyterian and the Baptist, and a very old cemetery, and Jessica has been getting volunteers together this last year to begin the long process of cleaning up the cemetery and doing some basic cleanup around the churches too. Two more cleanups are scheduled this fall, according to a post on the Historic Rodney Facebook page:

We’re planning 2 more cemetery clean ups this fall. First one will be Sat., Oct. 1st & the next one will be Sat., Nov. 12. Both will be before deer season (rifle) starts, so we will concentrate on the back part of the cemetery, adjacent to the land leased by the hunting club & get that part out of the way. Later, in Dec & Jan, we’ll have more, where we’ll concentrate on the front of the cemetery, so we’ll be farther away from any hunting. By then, we’ll have mapped the cemetery & documented the locations of all the stones-at least all that are visible. I’ll post more details soon.

I like a gal who plans around “hunting season (rifle)”! Contact Jessica if you’re interested in joining this volunteer effort.

And at the opposite end of the state in Holly Springs, the preservation group Preserve Marshall County is stirring. Their initial focus is on stabilizing and renovating the historic Chalmers Institute building, and toward that end, as found on their Facebook page, they’re hosting a fund-raiser October 8th, 6-10 PM:

Join us on the grounds of Mississippi’s first chartered university, Chalmers Institute, for this one-of-a-kind fundraising event. Featuring phenomenal food, artists, authors, storytellers and Shannon McNally!!


Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc. (501c3) formed in 2005 with the hope of bringing historic preservation advocacy and educational outreach to the community. As one of our inaugural undertakings we acquired Chalmers Institute and are currently working to not only pay off the bank note on the property but to stabilize and eventually rehabilitate Chalmers Institute into regional resource once more. And you can help.

General Information

Constructed in 1837, Chalmers Institute, was Mississippi’s first legislatively recognized University. Within these walls countless leaders, writers, educators, and citizens received the educational foundations that would help to shape their lives, careers, and region’s history. Its enrollment actively continued until 1879 when it became another casualty of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878. This proud structure entered its second life as residence until the 1980s. It now awaits its third life as a contributing member of the community with your help.


Chalmers has a long list of tasks that must be accomplished to save this structure. To name just a few:
-Roof stabilization
-Cornice restoration
-Restoration of the doors and windows
-West wall structural stabilization
-Rehabilitation of floors, walls, and ceilings
-System upgrade
-Site development

You can buy your tickets here.

And if you’re in the mood to just wander around already renovated places, remember that Carrollton’s Pilgrimage is in the fall each year, and Natchez also has a pilgrimage in the fall, shorter than its more famous Spring Pilgrimage but also a little less crowded. I highly recommend both, but if you’ve already seen Natchez, you might want to consider Carrollton, where Cotesworth, the home of J.Z. George, will be open for the first time in over 20 years. The Carrollton Pilgrimage is worth it even without Cotesworth, but with it? Priceless!

Categories: Preservation Education, Preservation People/Events

1 reply

  1. Thanks for keeping us updated on these events! I hope to go the pilgrimages :)


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