Saturday, February 9, 2008

Northeast Mississippi City Receives National Honor

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Columbus in Lowndes County one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. Since 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has annually selected communities across the United States that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destination. From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and commitments to historic preservation, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.

The birthplace of prize-winning playwright, Tennessee Williams, Columbus is home to three National Register Historic Districts that boast an impressive 676 properties. While other cities were ravaged during the Civil War, Columbus was a "hospital town," leaving the antebellum and Victorian homes-along with their contents-spared. Tours of these architectural gems abound. Whether taking a guided walking tour or winding through the scenic area by car, visitors are able to experience 19th century living first-hand. Attractions include Waverley Plantation Mansion, a National Historic Landmark and one of the most photographed homes of the South; Friendship Cemetery, the site of the first Memorial Day celebration in 1866; and the Mississippi University for Women, the oldest public college for women in the United States and home to 23 National Register properties.

Founded in 1821 on the banks of the Tombigbee River, the town thrives on its rich heritage and Southern charm. Columbus offers an extraordinary mix of history, natural beauty and culture. Its revitalized Main Street, bustling with family-owned businesses, treasure-filled emporiums and culinary delights, is endlessly appealing and pulsates with the rhythms of the blues.

Proud of its rich African American heritage, Columbus also offers tours of landmarks that showcase the remarkable impact the African American community has had on the city. The itinerary includes churches, universities and homes. From Catfish Alley, a central business district for African Americans during the late 19th century to Concord CME Church, one of the oldest churches in Columbus dating back to 1867, and the Robert Walker Home Site, where Walker was trained as a butler and went on to become the first African American to own and operate a hotel, this tour celebrates the lasting legacy of the accomplishments achieved by those, who despite oppressive times, prevailed and prospered.

Photographs: Tennessee Williams Home (1875) and Interpretive Center. The home also serves as the Mississippi Welcome Center (top). The Weeping Angel monument for Reverend Thomas Cox Teasdale. Rev. Teasdale was the only individual to obtain a document carrying the signatures of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis (bottom). Photographs courtesy of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau

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