ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Columbus, MS
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Historic Sites of Columbus, MS
Beautiful Franklin Square was built in 1835 as one
of the first brick homes in Columbus. It is one of an
array of antebellum homes in the historic city.
Errolton, built in ca. 1848, is
one of an array of beautiful
and historic homes in
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Work on this beautiful church
was started in 1854 and the
sanctuary was consecrated
on November 15, 1860.
Columbus, Mississippi - Historic Sites & Points of Interest
Birthplace of Tennessee Williams
|Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: July 12, 2012
Historic Sites in Mississippi
Stephen D. Lee Home
General Stephen D. Lee, who
helped lead the effort to
establish Vicksburg National
Military Park, lived here.
Historic Callaway Hall on the
campus of the Mississippi
University for Women is said
to be haunted.
Tennessee Williams Home
Noted playwright Tennessee
Williams, who wrote "Cat on a
Hot Tin Roof" and "Streetcar
Named Desire" was born
here on March 26, 1911.
Columbus, Mississippi, is a noteworthy
heritage destination on the Tennessee-
With three National Register Districts, the city
boasts nearly 700 nationally significant
properties and one of the largest collections
of 19th century homes in Mississippi. It is
also noted as the birthplace of renowned
playwright Tennessee Williams.
The modern city traces its history to 1810,
when Choctaw interpreter John Pitchlynn
established a home four miles from what is
now Columbus. Pitchlynn's farm on Plymouth
Bluff was fortified during the Creek War of
1813-1814 and became an important strong
point on the Choctaw frontier.
The Choctaw Indians ceded the land on
which the city now stands to the United
States in 1816. In the following year, Captain
Hugh Young of the U.S. Army surveyed a
military road that crossed the Tombigbee
River at the site and the first settler - Thomas
Thomas - built a log cabin there during the
From that first rough cabin, Columbus quickly
grew into a prosperous settlement. It was
thought for years that it was actually in nearby
Alabama and that state even established a
voting precinct in the community in 1819.
By 1821, however, it was evident that the new
settlement was in Mississippi and the state
legislature officially chartered the town on
February 10th of that year. Monroe County,
from which the present Lowndes was later
carved, was established by legislative act the
previous day. Columbus became the county
From those early beginnings, Columbus
grew into a showplace city. The first public
school in Mississippi was chartered there in
1821. The rich soil of the Black Prairie lands
that surround Columbus proved ideal for
growing cotton and, thanks to its location on
the Tombigbee, the city became a major
center for the cotton trade. Mansions built as
early as the 1830s can be seen there today.
The city survived a national economic panic
and rebounded quickly, continue its rapid
growth through the 1840s and 1850s. One of
the many factors that makes Columbus
unique is its long-standing commitment to
education for women. The Columbus
Female Institute was founded there in 1847.
The outbreak of the Civil War and fighting that
raged across Mississippi disrupted life in
Columbus in 1861-1865. The city itself never
came under attack, primarily because the
well-known Confederate cavalry leader
Nathan Bedford Forrest was operating north
of Columbus for much of the war.
The city did play a major role in support of the
Confederate war effort. Hospitals opened
there after the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 and
hundreds of Southern men wounded in that
battle were brought to Columbus for care.
Many died. As other battles took place, more
wounded men came. The care provided by
the doctors and women of the city saved
One of the city's best known ghost stories
originates from this time. Callaway Hall at
Mississippi University for Women was one of
the original buildings of the Columbus
Female Institute. It served as a hospital
during the Civil War and is supposed to be
haunted by the ghost of a nurse known only
as Mary. It is said that she committed suicide
by leaping from an upper floor after the death
of a soldier with whom she had fallen in love.
Because Columbus never came under direct
attack from the Union army, its beautiful
homes and other buildings survived the war
unscathed. As the economy rebounded from
the years of Civil War and Reconstruction, the
city once again prospered.
In 1884, the school that eventually became
the Mississippi University for Women was
chartered in Columbus. The city offered up
the buildings of the defunct Columbus
Female Institute. The "W" is the oldest public
university in America founded for women.
The university has admitted men since 1982
but still focuses heavily on leadership
opportunities and professional development
for women. Among is best known former
students was famed novelist Eudora Welty
who attended from 1925-1927. She won the
Pulitzer Prize for The Optimist's Daughter.
Columbus, in fact, has ties to two Pulitzer
Award winning writers. Thomas Lanier
Williams III was born there on March 26,
1911. Under the name Tennessee Williams
he became a world renowned playwright and
received Pulitzer Prizes for "Cat on a Hot Tin
Roof" and "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Williams' maternal grandfather, Walter Dakin,
was an Episcopal priest and the future writer
was born in what was then the rectory for St.
Paul's Episcopal Church. Dakin baptised his
grandson at St. Paul's and both structures
have a strong association with Williams.
The Tennessee Williams Birthplace has
been restored to its 1911 appearance and
now serves as a welcome center for the City
of Columbus. It is located at the corner of
Main and Third Street South and is open
seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30
p.m. There is no charge to visit.
Other landmarks of Columbus include
Franklin Square, built in 1835 as one of the
first brick homes in the city; the Stephen D
Lee Home, former residence of the well-
known Confederate general; the nearby
Waverly Mansion, and many, many other
antebellum and Victorian era homes.
To learn more this great city, please visit
|Photos by Kristina Martin