Vicksburg on National Registry

Bill Seratt

January 16

Vicksburg’s Impressive List on the National Register of Historic Places

Vicksburg and Warren County are home to 72 listings on the National Register of Historic Places.  Many of the city’s historic structures were lost during the Siege of Vicksburg, but many more were lost to urban development and neglect.  Vicksburg is fortunate to have the Vicksburg Board of Architectural Review which was established to prevent historic structures from demolition and inappropriate restoration.

Of Warren County’s 72 listings on the National Register of Historic Places, three have been listed as National Historic Landmarks:  the Fort Saint. Pierre Site, the Old Warren County Courthouse and Pemberton’s Headquarters.  National Historic Landmark status is designated for buildings, districts, objects, sites or structures that are officially recognized by the United States government for their outstanding historical significance.  Of over 90,000 places listed on the Register only about 2,500 are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.

In 1698 the French established Fort Saint Pierre - an outpost in what is now Warren County near present day Redwood, about ten miles north of Vicksburg.  It was the first white settlement in Mississippi.  Fort Saint Pierre was established by three Jesuit priests who sought to convert the Native Americans to Christianity.  After four years the mission was abandoned.  Fort Saint. Pierre was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000.  Although the site of Fort Saint. Pierre is located on private land much can be learned about the site at the Old Court House Museum.

The Old Warren County Courthouse now known as the Old Court House Museum, sits atop one of the highest bluffs In Vicksburg.  Construction began in 1858 on land that was donated by Newitt Vick, the founder of Vicksburg.  The Weldon Brothers from Rodney, Mississippi, were hired to build what would become one of the most iconic structures in Mississippi.  The building was completed in 1860 at a cost of $100,000 which is about $2,817,000 in today’s currency.  During the Civil War, the building was one of the main targets for Union assaults.  As hard as the Union tried, however, the building suffered only one major hit.  The Old Warren County Courthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968.

Pemberton’s Headquarters, also known as the Willis-Cowan House located at 1018 Crawford Street, was built in stages starting in 1836.  The house was built by William Bobb who sold it in 1836 to John Willis, an area plantation owner.  During the Civil War the house was selected by Confederate General John C. Pemberton as the headquarters for the city’s defense.  It was here that Pemberton and his subordinates planned out their military activities.  It was here that the decision to surrender the city after a 47-day siege by Union troops was made.  On July 4, 1863, General Pemberton and Union General Ulysses S. Grant met to discuss the details of the surrender.  The building and grounds received National Historic Landmark designation in 1968.

Many of the designated properties in Vicksburg can be found in the Visit Vicksburg Visitors Guide which is available at our four Visitor Information Centers and area attractions, restaurants and hotels.