MDAH News Releases

Coffee and Conversation at the Old Capitol Museum

The Old Capitol Museum will host its first Coffee and Conversation on Thursday, January 17, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. in the Chancery Courtroom. Ben Allen of Downtown Jackson Partners will kick off the new monthly community discussion and speak about upcoming projects in the capital city.

“I am looking forward to these discussions regarding the future of not only downtown, but our city and state as well,” said Allen. “These meetings in one of only four downtown antebellum buildings remaining in Jackson remind one of our rich heritage.”

Key legislation, two constitutions, and other important issues of the day have been discussed and debated at the Old Capitol since it opened in 1839. Upcoming topics for the monthly program include business, health, and economic development. The public is also invited to suggest topics.

“This building has a long history as a gathering place for discussion and ideas,” said Clay Williams, Old Capitol Museum director. “Discussing issues important to our capital city at Coffee and Conversation is one more way the Old Capitol Museum can continue that tradition, and Ben Allen is perfect fit for this new program.”

Coffee and pastries will be served. The program will be held the third Thursday of each month. For more information or to suggest a topic call 601-576-6920 or email the Old Capitol Museum.

MDAH News Releases

Symphony Brass Ensemble To Play Old Capitol Gala

French horn.

The Old Capitol Museum is pleased to present “An Evening with the Brass Ensemble of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra” on Thursday, January 24. Conductor Crafton Beck will lead a double brass quintet as they perform works by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), Giovanni  Gabrieli (died 1612), and others.

This special gala event will highlight the acoustics of the Old Capitol’s House of Representatives Chamber, constructed in a time when great attention was given to the acoustic qualities of spaces. From the holiday choirs that fill the Old Capitol’s rotunda with sounds of the season to Leontyne Price’s performance at Governor Winter’s inauguration in 1980, the Old Capitol has a history of hosting musical events.

Tickets are $40 and include wine and hors d’oeuvres. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 601-576-6855.

MDAH News Releases

Guided Tours of State Capitol Now Being Offered

Mississippi's state capitol.
Mississippi’s state capitol.

Since its completion in 1903, Mississippi’s State Capitol has drawn attention for its grand architecture. Through the newly formed state capitol docent program, visitors can now enjoy free, guided tours of the building. The tours are offered every Monday through Friday at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 2:30 p.m. No reservations are needed. Guided group tours are also available by request.

“We are delighted to be able to offer these tours of this beautiful building,” said Brenda Davis, curator of the state capitol. “This is the people’s house, and we want to share its story with everyone.”

Mississippi’s state capitol was designed in the Beaux Arts style, with large, grandiose spaces and an abundance of classical detail, stone finishes, and architectural elements. The building is 402 feet long, 225 feet wide at the center, and rises 180 feet at its dome. An eight-foot-tall copper eagle, coated with gold leaf, sits atop the dome and measures fifteen feet from wingtip to wingtip.

The exterior of the capitol is limestone over a base course of Georgia granite. The state capitol’s interior is also designed to impress. When the capitol was being constructed, electric lighting was a novelty of modern technology. Consequently, 4,750 lights were used throughout the building as an architectural element, highlighting and outlining the structure’s other features.

The main rotunda is of Italian marble with trimmings of jet-black marble from New York. Its friezes and columns lead the eye to the majestic and colorful dome. The House of Representative and Senate chambers at the ends of the building are built of marble and scagliola and feature domed ceilings richly decorated with oxidized copper, plaster, and stained glass.

On the tour visitors will learn about the architect who designed the building, the people who oversaw its construction, and its 1979-82 restoration, as well as how the building is used by state government today. For more information about tours of Mississippi’s State Capitol, contact Kathy Broom, visitor services coordinator, at 601-359-3114 or

MDAH News Releases

New Grant Program Targets State’s Civil Rights Sites

A new grant program will distribute more than $2 million to projects across the state related to the civil rights movement. The Mississippi Civil Rights Historical Sites Grant program will assist in paying the costs for repairs, renovations, and improvements to eligible sites. The Board of Trustees of the Department of Archives and History will determine which properties to recommend for funding to the Mississippi Development Authority at their regular meeting on July 22, 2011.

“The Mississippi legislature’s establishment of the Civil Rights Historical Sites Grant program provides a means for significant preservation projects across the state to move forward,” said MDAH director H.T. Holmes. “The opportunities for heritage tourism are constantly expanding, and we look forward to participating in this important initiative.”

Eligible properties must be associated with a significant event, action, or person from the civil rights era in Mississippi, 1945-70. Sites that will be open to the public will receive priority during the considerations. Grant recipients must enter into a twenty-five-year preservation and maintenance covenant that safeguards the state’s investment by providing MDAH oversight of alterations to the building during that time.

The maximum grant any project may receive is $210,000.  Recipients must provide a twenty percent match of either cash or in-kind contributions.  Grant funds will be provided on a reimbursable basis once all work is completed and approved by MDAH.

The deadline to apply is May 6, 2011. Application forms and instructions are available online.  For more information, call 601-576-6940.
2010 Civil Rights Historic Sites Grant Application

MDAH News Releases

Freedom Rides Commemoration Planned

Freedom 50th logoOn May 24, 1961, buses rolled in to Jackson carrying the first wave of Freedom Riders, who were immediately arrested upon attempting to integrate the facilities at the bus station. Fifty years later, this pivotal civil rights action will be remembered with a series of events in Jackson May 22–28.

Coordinated by the Mississippi Freedom 50th Foundation, the anniversary events will be attended by dozens of Freedom Riders. President Barack Obama is expected to attend.

Activities during the week will include private and public ceremonies to honor the Riders, panel discussions by Riders, other members of the Mississippi Movement, historians, and former government officials on the legacy of the Freedom Rides, a trip to the maximum-security building at Parchman penitentiary, where many of the Riders were incarcerated, and a day spent with students from around the state who are working to improve race relations in their communities.

MDAH will mount an exhibit in the lobby of the William F. Winter Building featuring photographs, newsfilm footage, and artifacts associated with the Freedom Rides. The exhibit will open in mid-May and close in October before traveling to other venues in Mississippi. MDAH is also developing online lesson plans following the Department of Education’s new civil rights curriculum.

For more information on the Freedom 50th events, visit the group’s Web site.