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Historic B&B Cedar Grove being sold

California native Colleen Small, 24, will be the new owner of Cedar Grove Mansion on Oak Street.(Melanue Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[10/19/03]Twenty-four-year-old Colleen Small said she visited Cedar Grove five years ago when she was looking for a wedding chapel. Her plans to wed fell through, but the deal to make her the new owner of the 34-room mansion on Oak Street is expected to close next month.

Small, a California native who lived in New Orleans for nearly half her life, said plans are to seal the deal to buy the bed and breakfast antebellum home from Ted Mackey on Nov. 4. The deal includes the historic home built in 1840, five acres of gardens, the wedding chapel on Washington Street and the cottages across Oak Street from the mansion.

The amount of the sale was not disclosed although the asking price on Cedar Grove’s Web site is $4.25 million. Realtor.com’s site lists only two other homes in Vicksburg for sale at more than $1 million Duff Green Mansion, 1114 First East St., lists for $1.5 million, and the house at 101 Golding Blvd., for $2 million.

Small said she received financial backing from her family, the owners of a chain of McDonald’s restaurants. That, she says, is where she learned about customers and business.

The original Cedar Grove home at Oak and Kline was built as a wedding gift from John Klein to his bride, Elizabeth. The house survived the 47-day siege of Vicksburg during 1863 despite a cannonball shot from a gunboat on the Mississippi River that remains in one wall today.

The home was used as a hospital for Union soldiers during the war, but some say the real reason the house was spared from the Union barrage is because Mrs. Klein was a relative of Union Gen. William T. Sherman.

Small said it was that history and the restoration efforts over the years that drew her to Cedar Grove.

“It’s a love story. It’s romantic,” Small said. “Once you get on the property here, you just kind of forget where you are.”

The home remained in the Klein family until 1919 and was owned by several Vicksburg families until it was purchased by the Vicksburg Theatre Guild in 1960. The local group operated the home until it was sold to R.L. Harper in 1979 for $260,000.

Ted and Estelle Mackey bought the home in 1983, expanding its grounds by buying the cottages across Oak Street and renovating much of the original estate. They could not be reached for comment.

According to Cedar Grove’s Web site, the bed and breakfast has gross annual sales of $1.7 million.

Cedar Grove is one of five bed and breakfast inns located in the areas adjacent to Speed and Klein streets known as the Vicksburg Garden District. The home has been featured on national television programs and in magazines for the history and restoration efforts over the years.

“I just want to keep it going and improve where it’s needed,” said Small, who added that she doesn’t plan to make any immediate changes.

She said her love for old homes developed after moving to Louisiana at age 12.

“Coming from Southern California, my father said we’re going to learn the culture because we don’t know anything and he drug us to all the old homes,” Small said.