GUIZERIX: Cedar Grove’s revitalization a promise for a better Vicksburg

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Perhaps no rose is as faded in Vicksburg as Cedar Grove, which is why the news of its purchase and restoration is so exciting.

On Friday, the home’s latest stewards, Harley Caldwell and Kendra and Steven Reed opened the doors to guests, with laughter and conversation filling the great halls for the first time in far too long. It was a sight to behold. Nothing in the home seemed overly “fixed.” For all intents and purposes, it felt like things were left the way they were when the last guest checked out.

It also carried with it the notion that we, as guests, were intruding on the space occupied by many of the home’s supposed haunts — but that’s a conversation for another time.

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As I made my way through Cedar Grove, greeting fellow guests and getting an eyeful of the beautiful decay that surrounded us, the ghost of what once was mingled openly with the excitement of what soon will be. Plaster crumbled in corners, careful steps up to the third floor with nervous footfalls on aging planks, the patina of dust on long-forgotten yet opulently decorated side rooms — it just needed a little polishing.

The exterior of the home matched the state of the interior, with its long-neglected landscaping, mildewed water features, peeling paint and upturned paving stones along paths more than a century old. In spite of the ruin, the dinge, azaleas of all colors and sizes sprung forth in a fabulous display. Paths winding past the old pool, to the tennis court up the hill and to the home’s grand entryway provided just enough room for guests to ponder the possibilities.

Kendra Reed said it best when she spoke about the home and her goals for its restoration: What makes Cedar Grove so remarkable is the people who find themselves attached to it. Whether that’s because they were married or honeymooned there, or they recall family gatherings at its once-famed restaurant or sunsets on its rooftop, Cedar Grove matters most because of the stories that are set there.

Much the same could be said for Vicksburg itself. A city with its own ups and downs and turns as numbered as bends on the Mississippi, Vicksburg stands poised on the cusp of its own revitalization. All the parts are there: a bustling downtown environment, historical appeal to spare, a growing industrial sector and still, a healthy dose of grit to keep things balanced.

It’s no secret that Reed and Caldwell are both committed to the future of Cedar Grove and by extension, the future of Vicksburg itself. One an outsider who found worth in the River City, the other a native child of its banks, both are committed to its success. They’re also committed to making Vicksburg a place of which we, as its people, can be proud.

I personally count myself lucky to be in the audience as they work their magic — and to bring Cedar Grove back to life with the grandeur they expect and the property deserves, they might need an ounce or two.