Repairs begin on Pemberton Headquarters

Published 10:28 am Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pemberton’s Headquarters, where Gen. John C. Pemberton planned the defense of Vicksburg and where he reached the decision to surrender his troops and the city to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, is undergoing repairs to prevent further deterioration.

The project is the second for the house. The National Park Service performed stabilization work on the headquarters in 2006, three years after it bought the building.

In this project, the front porch will receive shoring to support the existing structure and prevent the collapse of the second story porch. The current slate roof will be removed and stored while temporary waterproofing material is applied. The park will restore the porch and slate roof along with other exterior and interior preservation work at a later date. 

Vicksburg National Military Park and the National Park Service Southeast Regional Office Facility Support Division are overseeing the restoration and ensuring the work follows the guidelines of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. 

The stabilization project is planned to last over 10 years until additional planning and funding can result in the full restoration of the structure. Once it is stabilized, the National Park Service hopes to reopen the building to the public.

“This is one of the most important sites in the Vicksburg Campaign,” stated Scott Babinowich, chief of interpretation. “These repairs are not permanent fixes, but they will give us the opportunity to open the building again to visitors.” 

Built by William Bobb in 1835-36, the house was originally known as “Mrs.Willis’ House.” Pemberton used the house as his headquarters during the 47-day siege of Vicksburg.  It is in this house that General Pemberton and his staff decided to surrender to the General Grant and the Union Army on July 4, 1863. 

Later, the house, which is across the street from the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, was used by the Sisters of Mercy, which operated St. Francis Xavier school, which is now the home of the SCHC.

Because of its historic significance, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, and was purchased by the National Park Service in 2003 for $750,000.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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