Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 27, 2002

to be spent on repairs at Old Court House

Girl Scouts approach the Old Court House Museum Tuesday as bricks are shown protruding through the base of one of the stucco-covered columns of the building.(The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[06/26/02]The Old Court House Museum-Eva W. Davis Memorial will get more than $500,000 in repairs as a result of action Tuesday by the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

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The building, located across Cherry Street from the courthouse where county government has been based since the early 1940s, is still owned by the county, but has housed a museum of local history since June 1948. The museum is operated by the Vicksburg and Warren County Historical Society and supports itself solely on admissions, profits from a gift shop, memberships and donations.

Construction of the old court house, long designated an American Landmark, was begun in the 1850s, and the structure stood during the Civil War.

In December 2001, supervisors were notified a $235,000 Mississippi Community Heritage Preservation Grant had been awarded for renovations.

Board President Richard George said when the county applied for the grant, it asked for more than $480,000, but received only the $235,000. Since the total project cost is estimated at more than $500,000, the county will increase its contribution to $297,000 for a total fund of about $532,000 for the project.

The total project will include installing copper roofing, ridges, gutters and downspouts; several painting projects; and repairs to the stucco. It will be the most comprehensive project on the old building ever and follows a $1.3 million reroofing of the Warren County Jail now under way and a $1 million installation of a new heating, cooling and ventilation system in the “new” courthouse in 2000.

Also in recent years in the courthouse area, supervisors have built the governmental services facility at Grove and Adams and purchased a new building for use by Warren County Justice Court officials.

Since the county already has the plans, the next step will be to advertise for bids from contractors and award the project.

“The Old Court House is the most historic building in Warren County and one of the prettiest antebellum buildings in the state,” said Gordon Cotton, curator and director of the museum. “It is a symbol of Vicksburg and so it is important to keep it in good shape.”

In addition to its war-related history, the courthouse has been the scene of many key events in local history, including the beginning of the political career of Jefferson Davis, a local plantation owner who went on to become the first and only president of the Confederacy. He owned Brierfield Plantation on what is now called Davis Island, a part of Warren County on the west side of the Mississippi River south of Vicksburg.

In recent years, the museum has hosted music festivals and seminars and landscaped the grounds into gardens. More than 30,000 people tour the building each year.