Today we introduce guest blogger Mary Lohrenz, curator of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion. She wrote this month’s series of posts on the home of Mississippi’s executive.

Governor's Mansion exterior

Mississippi Governor's Mansion today.

The 1841 Mississippi Governor’s Mansion is a National Historic Landmark and the second-oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence in the United States. (The Virginia Governor’s Mansion in Richmond has been in continuous use since 1813.) English-born architect William Nichols designed the governor’s mansion in the period’s most popular architectural style—Greek Revival.

Governor's Mansion, late 19th century

Late 19th century, west side of mansion. Call Number: PI/HH/1982.0019 (MDAH Collection)

The governor’s mansion survived the Civil War but fell into disrepair through neglect during the lean post-war years. In March 1908 the Mississippi Legislature allocated $30,000 for a renovation directed by local architect William S. Hull. The 1908-09 project included the construction of a two-story family annex to the rear of the mansion.

Despite occasional appropriations for repair and furnishings, the mansion deteriorated structurally and a major restoration became necessary. Shortly after Governor William Waller’s 1972 inauguration, the legislature allocated funding for a $2.7 million restoration and renovation of the mansion. Historical records were studied for information on the mansion’s early interiors, and an investigation of the house itself was conducted. Museum-quality antiques were acquired to furnish the historic structure. The 1909 annex was replaced with a 1975 annex to provide family living quarters and office space. On June 8, 1975, the restored mansion was formally dedicated and Mississippi’s chief executive residence reopened to the public.

In 1980, the legislature gave the Mississippi Department of Archives and History statutory authority over the 1841 historic section and grounds of the mansion. The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion continues to serve as the residence of the state’s highest executive and to welcome countless visitors from schoolchildren to tourists to dignitaries from the United States and abroad.

Read more about the Mansion’s history and view frequently asked questions

Free tours of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion are given Tuesdays through Fridays, 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. on the half-hour.  Reservations are required for groups of ten or more.  Because the Governor’s Mansion may be closed for official state functions, you should call 601-359-6421 to confirm tour availability. 

Sources:

Helen Cain and Anne D. Czarniecki, An Illustrated Guide to the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion (Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1984). 

David G. Sansing and Carroll Waller, A History of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion (Jackson:  University Press of Mississippi, 1977).

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Marshall County Courthouse

On September 7, 2010, in Photographs, Sketches & Engravings, by Amanda
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Call Number: PI/CW/B38.8, Item 77 (MDAH Collection)

Marshall County, named for Chief Justice John Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court, was formed in 1836. The courthouse and town of Holly Springs, Mississippi are depicted in this sketch from Harper’s Weekly Magazine, January 10, 1863. The courthouse was burned during the Civil War, and rebuilt in 1872.

Call Number: PI/SF/COL/1987.0127, Item 127 (MDAH Collection)

This photograph of the courthouse was taken at some point before 1925, when east and west wings were added to increase office space.

The Marshall County Courthouse, with its clock tower and Greek revival architecture, is an example of the classic courthouse style employed in Mississippi in the 19th century. You can view other courthouses from around the state in the Cooper Postcard Collection, just type in “courthouse” as the search term.

Source: Bill Gurney, Mississippi Courthouses: Then and Now (Ripley, Mississippi: Old Timer Press, 1987), 99-100.

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The Coker House, near Edwards (Hinds County), was restored by MDAH in 2008-09. These images show the structure prior to restoration and the final result after completion of the project. Located on the Champion Hill Civil War battlefield, the Coker House sustained fire from Federal and Confederate artillery and served as a field hospital during the battle on May 16, 1863.

The house was built in 1852 by the Coker family in the vernacular Greek Revival style popular at the time. The restoration incorporated as many of the original materials as possible, however as you can see from these images, the house was extremely deteriorated and many parts of it could not be saved.

New interpretive signs, which will be installed at the site later this year, detail the history of the Coker House and tell the story of the Battle of Champion Hill, placing it within the larger context of the Vicksburg Campaign.

The Coker House is located about 3 miles east of Edwards on Highway 467 in front of the Cal-Maine Foods plant. Visitors are welcome from sunup to sundown. There is no charge. For more information, call 601-446-6502 or email the Historic Properties division.

Interior images coming next…

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