Let’s Revisit Ceres, Shall We?

Ceres Plantation, RIP 2012.

Ceres Plantation, RIP 2012.

Maybe you remember the little brewhaha over the proposed demolition of antebellum Ceres Plantation, located on the north side of I-20 just east of Vicksburg, beginning in 2009. It had had the misfortune of being bought by the Warren County Port Commission back in the 1980s. Although its farmland was converted to an industrial park, for the first twenty years or so the Port Commission rented out the main house, a one-story frame building with wide porch, and its distinctive barns, one of which announced the name of the place, “Ceres Plantation” in bold red letters to passersby. In fact, this Los Angeles Times article from 1988 indicates that the preservation of the plantation buildings was important to the original plan, a “merging of New and Old South.”

Then in 2009, the port commission announced that it needed to demolish the house because it couldn’t keep a tenant and/or they couldn’t replace a few rotted boards on the porch. Either way, they NEEDED to demolish the house!!! Economic development would be forever hobbled if they couldn’t, no one in Warren County would have a job, children would go hungry, all because of preservationists and their unwillingness to let go of the past. In response, preservationists tried to point out that the house was not in bad shape, that keeping tenants would always be hard if the commission insisted that it could break the lease with minimal notice, and that in fact, there seemed to be large quantities of vacant space at the so-called industrial park.

Well, the WCPC kept plugging and finally got its way. The house and all the barns (which they at first said they would leave) came down in July 2012. So last spring I finally got up the nerve to drive through the industrial park and see what was up, and whether the park was still more vacant than not. The answer, as you will see below, is, yes. In fact, I think there is even more vacant space than there was a few years ago. So many vacant buildings, it makes you wonder why there was such a rush to demolish a tiny little building that so many people wanted to find a way to save and keep in use.

Ceres Industrial Park is so full that when you go to the Warren County Port Commission website and click on the link for Ceres, you get this "Not Found" page. Try it, it's fun! (

Ceres Industrial Park is so full that when you go to the Warren County Port Commission website and click on the link for Ceres, you get this “Not Found” page. Try it, it’s fun!

The purpose of this post is so that you will remember Ceres (and Meridian Hotel too) whenever someone starts telling you a historic building JUST HAS TO go away so that some grand new scheme that will save the world and make everyone healthy and rich and happily married and Jews and Christians and Muslims will all finally get along and . . . and . . . I’m getting breathless just talking about the bold new world we’re standing in the way of! Economic developers can be our allies in preservation, but too often we preservationists allow them to cast us as the wild-eyed crazies when in fact, the evidence shows that more often than not, we’re the rational ones that people thank twenty or thirty years later and they’re the ones who go off to the Next Big Thing when this one doesn’t quite pan out. Don’t be scared of seeming crazy, because when you’re up against a situation like Ceres, they’re the wild-eyed ones who should have to put up or shut up.

The backstory on the demise of Ceres makes an interesting case study in the half-truths and spin of government economic development agencies and the weakness of government historical agencies. Here are just a few of the updates we’ve done here on MissPres:



Categories: Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Vicksburg

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8 replies

  1. Every time I drive I-20 (which is A LOT these days) and pass the empty space, I think about this needless waste. I have often wondered what was “back there” that this one building was seen as such a major obstacle.

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  2. Really….really….REALLY!!! Destruction was more important than having a place that had such historical importance. Wish someone would explain these governmental decisions about improvements and report the progress of empty land. Just my thoughts.

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  3. I’m not able to access the blog website.Is there an issue on your end?  III 

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  4. Why on earth would you want a hotel next to your multi-million dollar museum? I know people who like museums usually hate old buildings and rather stay in a location that is far away from the “Arts and Entertainment district.” I bet the folks who restored the King Edward Hotel in Jackson or the White House Hotel in Biloxi feel duped because Clay Holladay, publicity chair for the MAEC, didn’t tell them “because for instance their buildings were much older, that it’s best to tear the buildings down.” Bless your little heart Meridian!

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