Heritage Guild works to preserve local history, improve schools

Published 9:35 am Friday, October 14, 2016


Did you know Jane Ellen McAllister, a Vicksburg native, was the first African- American woman to receive a doctorate in education? Or, did you know Vicksburg has 71 sites on the National Register of Historic Places?

Vicksburg is one of the most historic towns in Mississippi, and a local group is working to make sure everyone knows.

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“We live in a city that is rich in history — history of people, places and events. Our goal is to help everyone really appreciate our rich heritage,” Carol McMillin of the Heritage Guild of Vicksburg and Warren County said.

The guild was founded this spring and is working with the school district, the government and other local agencies to preserve the city and county’s history. McMillin, Dinah Lazor and Joyce Clingan shared with the Vicksburg Lions Club about the organization Wednesday.

“Our mission statement is to champion Vicksburg and Warren County’s history and to value its influence as it shapes the character of our community today and into the future,” McMillin said.

Lazor said one of the first things the group did was to research other cities and learn their course of action when it came to historic preservation and economic downturn, rundown neighborhoods, depreciated home prices and more. The group specifically studied Tupelo, Meridian and Mobile, Ala. to get a better idea of the ways to preserve history in Vicksburg.

The Heritage Guild is now working with superintendent Chad Shealy of the Vicksburg Warren School District to help beautify the outsides of Bowmar Elementary School and the Academy of Innovation because of their locations on two historic streets and to get the young families with children at the schools involved.

“The school district is going to work with the fence. The Master Gardeners and the PTO are now going to work with us on landscaping it,” Lazor said of Bowmar’s facade. “This time next year, and maybe sooner, that area is going to be much improved.”

It is the Heritage Guild’s goal to stabilize the empty former house of McAllister and turn it into a museum and tutoring center with help from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Jackson State University alums as well as the city and AmeriCorps. The guild also plans to place a marker at the former location of Magnolia School on Speed Street.

“We’re encouraging some things just to make the public and us more aware of our historical assets,” Lazor said.

She said the group is working with the city by attending public meetings like the Architectural Review Board meetings, crime and public safety meetings and zoning ordinance meetings. In an effort to kick start manual work, the guild is collaborating with AmeriCoprs and Service Over Self.

Membership is $35 for an individual annually and members are expected to contribute their time, labor, knowledge and resources. The 80-member group meets the second Monday of every month at Nogales House, 1208 Adams St.

“You are welcome to join us even if you don’t pay the $35,” Lazor said.

For more information, email heritageguildvbg@aol.com.