Today’s guest post by Dr. Suzannah A. Patterson is a request for your expert assistance in identifying important Mississippi sites in the area of arts and entertainment. If you know of sites she doesn’t mention below, drop a line in the comments or give her a call, and stay tuned for what Dr. Patterson (and you) turn up!
Mississippi has a long and colorful history in arts and entertainment, but identifying the facilities in which events occurred has proved to be a problem. I am working as a volunteer to promote Hattiesburg’s FestivalSouth, which this year includes a tribute to the state’s bicentennial. To promote the six special Mississippi events, I am doing a story that harkens back to the arts and entertainment of early statehood. In addition to the people who sang, danced, painted and acted then, I would like to include the buildings in which their work was displayed or performed.
I have a great deal of info on Natchez, including the formation of the Natchez Theatrical Association, which performed at a former Spanish hospital on a site near Fort Rosalie; the performance of Jenny Lind at the Methodist church in 1851; and the opening of the Natchez Temple Opera House (built by Natchez Institute) in 1858. I also have the info on what is now the Riley Center, which opened as the Meridian Grand Opera House in 1890 with a German-language NYC company performing Strauss’s The Gypsy Baron. Later, in 1892, the world renown Sarah Bernhardt performed in Tosca.
If anyone can provide leads on performance centers, including art galleries, I will be able to make this story more representative of all of Mississippi. Any leads on Mississippi singers, artists, dancers and actors will also be welcomed. My focus is early Mississippi, so I prefer info before the twentieth century.
I know there are a ton of followers of this blog that have heads full of this sort of info. Pls take a moment to share it with me!
Suzannah A. Patterson, Ph.D., APR
Associate professor emerita
Valdosta State University