Let’s nail the thieves who did this to the Shaifer House

Shaifer House, Port Gibson Battlefield, April 1, 2017.

Word has been spreading for the past 10 days on Facebook and beyond about an act of bold thievery, of pure thugery, perpetrated on the National Historic Landmark Shaifer House out in the woods near Port Gibson, but yesterday I saw the first “official” post (on the Rodney Remembered Facebook group) recounting what has happened and offering a generous reward for information. This is really shocking and disgusting.


As some of you may know, on April 1, 2017 at 10:00 A.M., a massive amount of damage was discovered at the historic A.K. Shaifer House in Port Gibson, MS. Apparently, a group of criminals vandalized and stole wood, bricks, and materials from the interior and exterior of the home. A broken chain was also discovered, where the criminals backed a vehicle or truck up to the house and used it to pull out and steal major structural beams located underneath the house. The Port Gibson Heritage Trust Battlefield Committee is looking for ANY information regarding the crime. A reward of $5,000 is also being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves responsible for this act. If you have ANY information AT ALL, please send an email to shaiferhousereward@gmail.com. You can remain anonymous if you’d like. We are looking for suspicious activity, vehicles someone may have seen with large beams or wood loaded up, someone who might have been spooked when you or a friend visited the home, etc.

We are also attempting to narrow down the day of the damage and as close as we can get, so far, is between 4:00 PM on Monday, March 20th, 2017 to 10:00 AM on April 1st, 2017. Also, if you or anyone you know visited the house between these dates, please let us know if you saw the house and if it was damaged or not when you visited. This will assist in us narrowing down the time frame even more.

The Port Gibson Battlefield is one of the most pristine Civil War battlefields in the South. Much of the land, road, and the Shaifer House is EXACTLY the way it was during the Civil War. We can all work together to help keep it this way.


(Sorry I couldn’t get this Facebook post to embed into WordPress like usual because WP considers it an “album,” so to get to the live post with its comments and larger pictures, click here.)

Make no mistake. This is not an act of vandalism, not some foolish kids out for a fun Saturday night. This is a criminal act that was planned and took some time to execute, probably by more than one person, possibly by locals who know the confusing backroads of Claiborne County. They apparently targeted specific large timbers, such as a sill on the side and joists, and had the tools and wherewithal to get at them, which probably means they’re contractors or carpenters or someone who fancies himself as such. According to MDAH sources, several brick piers were pulled out and a chain was left at the site, wrapped around a brick foundation pier in the center of the building, which means these guys weren’t done when they left. Maybe they got spooked when unsuspecting tourists stopped by while the work was going on and assumed this was work by a contractor hired by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Maybe you were that tourist and all the sudden you realize you witnessed a crime. Contact MDAH or the Port Gibson Heritage Trust Battlefield Committee at shaiferhousereward@gmail.com.

Someone knows about this, beyond the people who did it. For one thing, like the dufus who stole Biloxi’s Golden Fisherman, these salvagers have taken some really big items, in this case 20-foot-long timbers, that are harder to hide than, say, a diamond ring. Maybe someone noticed a trailer with the sills and joists on it and didn’t think much of it. Maybe someone noticed that their neighbor showed up with such a trailer recently. Turn them in! Get your reward (or better yet, turn them in just for the fun of it), and enjoy the prospect of them squirming in jail. These people don’t deserve our pity or sympathy. They knowingly began tearing apart one of Mississippi’s nationally significant buildings (and apparently would have continued if they had had time) so that they could, I don’t know, create a faux-rustic table or whatever to sell to somebody looking to furnish his new mansion with “authentic timber.” Architectural salvage can be done legitimately when a building is too far gone to repair, but let’s shut down thieves like this who destroy with malice aforethought the historic places that define us.

Even if you haven’t been to the Shaifer House recently, spread the word to friends who might have and keep up the pressure. Let’s nail ’em so this doesn’t happen again.


Categories: Civil War, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, MDAH, Urban/Rural Issues


21 replies

  1. Horrible!!! I surely hope the people who did this are caught. We have deer cams that work at night. Maybe some could be hidden in the trees – here and The Ruins of Windsor also. And, don’t post signs saying the property has surveillance cams because good crooks might find them and steal the cameras too!!! How wonderful it would have been if a Park Ranger had appeared while this was being done or some cameras had been rolling!


    • My name is Robert, I’m a retired conservator in New York who worked on many Historic properties and this brings tears to my eyes, I hope and pray you can find the hoodlums who did this

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What would one use this stuff for? Why would they steal such items?


    • I’ve been seeing old timbers used in a variety of “installations” in new fancy houses, lots of times as some sort of table. Of course, it could also be for re-use in a historic building, but I doubt that in this case.


  3. It would probably be a good idea to ask at Old House Depot and Storied Salvage, etc.


  4. cretins


  5. This showed up on my Face Bok feed. It’s old stuff. Had pics in it.
    Auction 18 has old rough cut pine beams and tons of old barn wood for sale. We also have tons of rusted tin for sale! Call or text 6015736918 or 6018966080


  6. I guess the silver lining is that MDAH was able to get there and do some stabilization to prevent further damage . . . but it’s not much of one.


  7. Press release from MDAH today.

    “Thieves have vandalized the nearly two-hundred-year-old Shaifer House in Claiborne County, making off with four wooden support beams and damaging interior flooring and walls. The theft was discovered on April 1, and the actions most likely occurred earlier that week.

    Staff from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, which administers the site, have made an initial stabilization to prevent further damage to the house. Because permanent repairs have not yet been made, the site has been closed to the public. MDAH is working with public officials and private citizens to increase security at the Shaifer House.

    “The repair of the Shaifer House is a top priority,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are consulting with state legislators, local governments, the Port Gibson Heritage Trust, other state agencies, and the National Park Service to ensure the house is preserved for future generations.”

    Read the rest at http://www.mdah.ms.gov/new/news/historic-house-suffers-loss-damage-by-thieves/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Why do I imagine meth involved? Maybe the striking lack of sensibility or moral breadth? Or any thought to how their community might feel about them for this selfishness.


  9. I’m ashamed of these people that would do such a thing i love old houses that have such an amazing feel to them it hurts my heart to know that someone could have done that I hope they are caught and punished for this act


  10. very, very sad…. can we be optimistic and say that, in this day and age, we are lucky there is not more of this! epd(author of ‘architecture in claiborne county, mississippi’)


  11. I would start looking for new homes being built around that area. Possibly someone’s custom home, not a spec home. This type wood and brick is expensive and hard to find. People that can afford it use these bricks and beams for the interior of new homes. I wouldn’t think it would be someone local to the area but if they’re stupid enough to do something like this. Well you never know.


  12. https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsLook at local Sawmills if any are in the area. They may have beams re-sawn into flooring.


  13. The Sardis Baptist Church of Christ in Winston County has been vandalized and suspects have been caught. The church is listed on the National Historic Register.
    In the survey of that church for national listing, the author suggests that the two-door entrance was to separate males and females. Does that mean males and females sat in different pews? I don’t think so. The original church building was destroyed but this 1917 building was constructed on the original rock foundation and replicates the architecture of the original style.



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