3rd City Front mural under way, will depict Washington Street

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 30, 2002

A Vicksburg street scene from the late 19th century proposed by Robert Dafford. (The Vicksburg Post/C. Todd Sherman)

[10/30/02]Work has begun on the third mural for the floodwall at City Front.

Nellie Caldwell, chairman of the city’s mural committee, unveiled a rendition of the mural at a meeting Tuesday morning, hours before Louisiana native and artist Robert Dafford began painting.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am

The panel will depict Washington Street in the early 1900s looking north from South Street.

“I’ve seen other pictures like this in other towns and it looks like you could just walk into it and go to the stores,” Caldwell said.

Details include buildings familiar to Vicksburg residents, dirt roads and the trolley system that ran through the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Doug Dafford, one of five artists who will be working on the mural over the next 30 days, said some changes will be made to the final work to make it more historically accurate.

“A rendition is seldom what the finished product will look like,” Dafford said.

Two buildings shown in the rendering, First National Bank at Clay Street and The Valley department store at South, will be extracted from the mural because neither existed in 1900. The bank was built around 1906 and the first Valley building was replaced in 1912 with the five-story building there today, according to Nancy Bell of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.

The first home of The Valley had been a one-story building, she said.

“We’re doing the best we can to get things as accurate as we can,” Caldwell said.

The latest mural project is being sponsored by Calsonic Kansei Mississippi, the Nissan supplier that opened last week at Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex. The next mural work on it will begin immediately after the new one is completed is being sponsored by the city through a grant and will feature the city’s founder, the Rev. Newit Vick, a Methodist minister, and have other images of the city’s 1825 founding.

International Paper has signed on to sponsor another mural to be painted in the spring and descendants of the Sultana, a Civil War steamship that exploded after being overloaded in Vicksburg with Union prisoners of war, have donated about $2,000.

Each mural costs about $15,000.

The mural committee is also raising money by selling posters and prints representing the first mural by Robert Dafford, a depiction of the Belle of the Bends steamboat on the Mississippi River in Vicksburg. The posters sell for $10 and the prints for $40 and are available at several downtown businesses.

Seven percent of those sales go to the artist with the rest going toward future murals.

The painting will also be featured on the next printing of the Southern Style Publications telephone directories due out next month. Caldwell said the phone book will be delivered to about 650,000 homes and businesses in Mississippi.

“This is a very exciting time,” Caldwell said.

Ergon Inc. sponsored the second mural, and in 2001, a city committee selected a work by Vicksburg artist Martha Ferris to go on one section of the wall.

In total, 14 murals are planned along the floodwall. The floodwall runs parallel to the Yazoo Diversion Canal just west of downtown.

“With this project, you see what citizens can do that government can’t,” said South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman.

Doug Dafford said that the murals will last about 15 years and that Robert Dafford Murals will maintain the work.