Old Court House fires up the grill for fundraiser

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 4, 2014

A smoky haze filled the air in downtown Vicksburg Friday night, but it wasn’t from the colorful fireworks show. The advisory council of the Old Court House Museum spent the afternoon grilling hot dogs and hamburgers for hundreds of patrons before the Independence Day festivities kicked off in an effort to raise money for the Court House budget.  

“We don’t receive any (state or federal) funds, so we raise our own funds,” council member Jan Daigre said. “Before the fireworks go, this is a wonderful place to view the fireworks, so we’re just going to capture all the people and try and sell them something.”

Friday marked the second year of the concessions fundraiser, which has continued to be a success for the Old Court House. The event raised an estimated $2,000 last year and, before the music had even started, was on pace to top that number in 2014.

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“This is only our second (year), and it just occurred to us a couple years ago because of all the people that would bring their lawn chairs and sit on the verandas and watch the fireworks, that maybe we should take advantage of all the people being here,” Daigre said.

Board members grilled around 200 hot dogs and hamburgers throughout the night for the people who watched the fireworks display from high atop the Court House lawn.

The building’s rich history and central location makes it a unique place to celebrate the 4th of July.

“Number one, it was here during the Civil War. When the city of Vicksburg surrendered on the 4th of July, this is the first place General Grant came to take down the Confederate flag,” council member David Maggio said. “He pulled down the flag from this courthouse.”

So while the fireworks exploded and the music drifted up the bluff, spectators at the Old Court House were able to enjoy the building’s historical significance in a modern setting.

“So much of the history of this building passed through the history of Vicksburg itself,” Maggio said. “It is a part of the history of Vicksburg, and it’s the main reason why we’re working so hard to preserve it.”

Built in 1858, the Old Court House became a museum and memorial in 1948, 90 years after its construction.

It 1968, it was declared a National Historic Landmark and, in 1986, gained the same designation at the state level.

Exhibits detail what life was like for civilians in Vicksburg during the siege of the city in 1863.

Operated and mainted by the Vicksburg and Warren County Historical Society, the Old Court House Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors 65-and-up, and $3 for students.

Advanced reservations are preferred for parties of 10 or more and can be made by calling 601-636-0741 or emailing societyhistory@bellsouth.net.

For more information, visit www.oldcourthouse.org.