After languishing for years and heading for ruin before the Archaeological Conservancy bought it a few years ago, things have been moving fast at Prospect Hill in the last month.
If you’re on Facebook, you probably saw that an anonymous donor had arranged for tarps to be put on the roof, which has been deteriorating badly.
The Conservancy has received a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to put the roof back into shape, which will be a start, of course, but just a start, toward saving the house. The Conservancy needs to match that grant with $35,000 of its own and has set up an online site that will allow all of us to help them reach this goal.
The great news is that once the Conservancy raises this money and gets the roof moving, they have a serious buyer for the house and property who plans to then do a full restoration.
Since it was a baby blog back in 2009, Preservation in Mississippi has been an ally of Prospect Hill, a house and property that have a unique and important story to tell. MissPresers like you have turned out to fundraising events and sent money faithfully. Let’s help Prospect Hill over this one last hump so that someday maybe we can attend a big open house when the roof isn’t hanging and there aren’t little pools sitting around to catch the water. Wouldn’t that be a great day?
Here’s the full press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jessica Crawford
Near Natchez, Mississippi – August 8, 2014 – The Archaeological Conservancy is raising funds for stabilization work on the antebellum house on its Prospect Hill plantation preserve. The main house, completed in 1854 is in severe disrepair, but an individual has agreed to completely restore the home, providing that money for a roof is raised. The Conservancy must raise $35,000. The project can be found on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo under “Saving Prospect Hill.” The Conservancy purchased the house and surrounding grounds in 2011 in an effort to preserve the early to late 1800’s plantation archaeological resources which include the foundations of several outbuildings, including a laundry/kitchen, a smoke house, a house for slaves who worked inside the main house, a cotton gin, and other slave housing, as well as buildings whose use has not been determined.
Prospect Hill Plantation was founded by Revolutionary War veteran Isaac Ross, who came to the Mississippi Territory in 1808 with a large contingent of slaves as well as free blacks who had served alongside him in the war. The plantation’s history is unique among historical sites in the United States and significant to the history of Liberia, in West Africa, as well. It is as much about African American history as it is a tale of a divided slave-owning family, and it spans more than 200 years and two continents
The existing Prospect Hill house is actually the second on the site. Ross’s original Prospect Hill mansion was burned during a slave uprising and the current house was built by his grandson in 1854. Out of fear that they would be mistreated by a subsequent owner, Ross wrote in his will that at the time of his daughter Margaret’s death Prospect Hill should be sold and the money used to pay the way of his slaves (who were to be emancipated) to the West African colony of Liberia, which had been set up for the purpose of “repatriation” by a group known as the American Colonization Society. This, Ross felt, was the only way for the slaves to gain control of their destiny. In 1845, a group of nearly 300 Ross family slaves made the journey from Prospect Hill, to New Orleans, then across the ocean to a colony in Africa called Mississippi.
After buying Prospect Hill from its absentee owner, the Archaeological Conservancy hosted a homecoming-reunion of all the groups related to the plantation — descendants of the divided slave holding family, the slaves who remained in the area, and the slaves who immigrated to Liberia. It was a remarkable gathering, illustrating the breadth of Prospect Hill’s story.
The Conservancy hopes to halt deterioration to the house by replacing the roof so that it can find a buyer willing to preserve and restore the house while the Conservancy retains a protective archaeological easement on the grounds.
Prospect Hill has a Facebook page facebook.com/prospecthillplantation devoted to updating the public about research and repair work taking place at the house, as well as the antics of Isaac, an India Blue peacock who was born at Prospect Hill and moved into the house when the owner abandoned it. To say he has a cult following would be an understatement.
The Conservancy has organized contribution amounts into tiers, and each level corresponds with a specific benefit. The larger the donation, the bigger the benefit. These range from a card and peacock feathers from Isaac, the resident (and famous) peacock, to t-shirts, signed books and a private viewing and cocktail party once the home is restored.
About Archaeological Conservancy
The Archaeological Conservancy, established in 1980, is the only national non-profit organization dedicated to acquiring and preserving the best of our nation’s remaining archaeological sites. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Conservancy also operates regional offices in Mississippi, Maryland, Ohio, and California.
See Prospect Hill posts from MissPres’s baby days: