What are Mississippi’s earliest arts sites?

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!

Meridian Grand Opera House (now Riley Center for the Performing Arts), 1890, G.M. Torgerson, archt., Charles Rubush, builder.

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

Categories: Heritage Tourism, Museums, Preservation People/Events


15 replies

  1. Would the 1898 Dukate Theater in Biloxi be something you’re looking for? It’s been remodeled several times that included removing the performance space.



  2. Walnut Street Theatre, 1207 Walnut Street, Vicksburg. I located an advertisement in the Vicksburg Herald, 06 June 1899. It was later the Saenger Theater, and was destroyed in the 1953 tornado.


  3. Keeton, G. H. (1979). The Theatre in Mississippi From 1840-1870. Louisiana State University, Historical Dissertations and Theses. http://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4398&context=gradschool_disstheses

    I have located several advertisements of theatre offerings in the newspaper archives.


  4. Citizen’s Opera House in Yazoo City; opened 1899; burned in 1904 and replace in 1908.


  5. Suzassippi, thank you so very much for your lead. I am sure there is something in this I needed to include, but, unfortunately, I am told I have to get my release to press before I will have time to make my way through this dissertation.I really wanted something on the Delta, but will have to run without it. Will read it at leisure though. Thanks again.


  6. How about the Chatauqua events held at Lake Chatauqua in Crystal Springs? Late 1800s and early 1900s.


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