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Contact: Rick P. Martin, 601-619-2905
Pemberton Headquarters could open to public in summer
By Sam Knowlton
Built ca. 1835. Military headquarters of Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, who commanded the Confederate forces during the siege of Vicksburg. Here on July 3, 1863, the decision was made to surrender the city.” - Mississippi Department of Archives and History marker outside Pemberton Headquarters (Willis-Cowan House), 1018 Crawford St.
Work on a first phase of renovation to Pemberton's Headquarters has begun and the home is expected to be open as early as this summer.
The repairs are the first rehabilitation work to the home since it was acquired by the National Park Service in 2003 and the park's current plan is for the repairs to allow the home to be opened to tourists, Superintendent Monika Mayr of the Vicksburg National Military Park said this week.
“All the identified repairs we wanted to do will not be complete but the critical ones will be,” Mayr said.
Initial work includes installing a new water line outside to accommodate public use of the building.
Work that will remain includes repairs to brick walkways, concrete steps, miscellaneous mechanical work, sealing any leaks to the home, repainting and repairing any cracks on the interior and repairing exterior wood siding.
Plans are for the home to be opened initially with temporary exhibits and for them to be upgraded later as more funds become available.
A major project that is on the park's agenda for the home but will not be complete in the current phase of work is to pave the driveway behind the home and add a wheelchair lift there, Mayr said.
The park may use revenue collected as admission fees from its visitors to upgrade the exhibits, but at least two other projects are in line to be funded from such funds first, Mayr added. Two projects that have been in line for funds from the admission-fee fund are production of a new film for the park's visitor center and a paved walkway to the Kentucky monument off the South Loop of the park's tour road.
The park plans to have uniformed staff explaining the significance of Pemberton's Headquarters to visitors. The house served as Pemberton's Headquarters during the siege of Vicksburg, from May to July 1863. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
The home was acquired by the VNMP for about $750,000. Stabilization of it was expected to cost about $300,000 and restoration about $1 million or more.
The VNMP was established by Congress in 1899. Its previous acquisition outside its original boundaries was a part of Grant's Canal in Delta, La., which was donated to it in 1999.
Also in the area with Pemberton's Headquarters are the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, formerly the Sisters of Mercy complex. The Old Court House Museum, where Gen. U.S. Grant raised the Union flag after Pemberton's surrender, is four blocks north.