Foundation for Mississippi History Receives $250K from Entergy Mississippi for Historic Jefferson College
Entergy Mississippi’s grant of $250,000 to the Foundation for Mississippi History will support the restoration of Raymond Hall as part of a new initiative by the Mississippi Department of Archives at History (MDAH) on the campus of Historic Jefferson College in Washington.
MDAH is developing the Natchez Center for American History (NCAH) at Historic Jefferson College. The $20 million project will include two components: a preservation field school and an interpretive center.
Raymond Hall will be restored and equipped with modern building systems to provide classroom space and housing for what will become the region’s first preservation field school. MDAH preservation professionals and faculty from regional universities will provide hands-on, in-the-field learning to develop the next generation of the preservation workforce.
“The restoration project at Historic Jefferson College is a prime example of Mississippians working to better our communities and create opportunities for the next generation,” said Haley Fisackerly, president and CEO, of Entergy Mississippi. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to develop an institution that will prepare Mississippians for employment in a sector that is woefully short of meeting demand. Not only is it a beautiful site that will play an important role in southwest Mississippi’s tourism, but this effort will also cultivate a strong workforce with diverse skills critical to helping Mississippi’s economy thrive.”
The campus is an 80-acre site with eight main buildings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. The first building at the college was completed in 1820 as the cotton economy built on slavery was expanding and generating vast wealth.
Restoration and development of Historic Jefferson College are key components of MDAH’s strategic plan for southwest Mississippi, where it operates two other historic sites—the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez and Windsor Ruins near Port Gibson.
“Historic Jefferson College will one day be a gateway for visitors, sharing the powerful stories of the Native American experience, conflicts among Colonial powers, westward expansion, statehood, slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction,” said Katie Blount, director of MDAH. “We will bring visitors to Jefferson College and then send them out across the region to see the places where history happened.”
Historic Jefferson College was Mississippi’s first institution of higher learning and the birthplace of statehood, where delegates gathered to write the state’s first constitution. Jefferson College operated for many years as a preparatory school and later as Jefferson Military College. It served briefly as a Freedmen’s Bureau after the Civil War.
In addition to the grant from Entergy Mississippi, MDAH has secured state and federal funds to support the project. The Foundation for Mississippi History will continue to seek private support.
Entergy Mississippi has generously supported other MDAH projects including the Two Mississippi Museums and the William and Elise Winter Education Endowment.