Port Gibson Main Street has been recognized by the Mississippi Main Street Association with numerous awards for work that has ranged from installing trash receptacles, benches and planting flowers and trees to the purchase and renovation of three badly neglected historic buildings in the Main Street District. The Director of Port Gibson Main Street is Kenneth Ross, who also serves on the Mississippi Main Street Board of Directors.
Current and Recent Projects
Port Gibson Main Street has made several significant financial commitments to the revitalization effort by acquiring and restoring two buildings in the Main Street District: 621 Market Street and 217 Walnut Street. Additionally in January 2008, Port Gibson Main Street purchased the badly deteriorated 619 Market St. (The J.H. Lee Building) for rehabilitation. This building, which was being demolished by neglect, is the last structure in an important grouping of antebellum commercial buildings built circa 1840 on the east side of the 600 block of Market Street that has not been restored or renovated. The first phase of this rehabilitation project, which was completed in the summer of 2008, was to structurally stabilize the original two-story structure.
The 621 Market Street property renovation was completed in 2002 and sold to a private individual and is now an art gallery and artist studio.
The 217 Walnut Street property was donated to Port Gibson Main Street, and the facade restoration and interior renovation was completed in 2005. This property is currently occupied by a tenant and was recently sold to a private developer thereby returning the property to the tax rolls.
Both of these projects won statewide Main Street awards, and they were accomplished primarily through the use of traditional bank loan financing, limited grants and monies raised by Port Gibson Main Street through a number of activities, including the annual Port Gibson Heritage Festival.
Other recent projects include the recent completion of a project, started in 2006, in which Port Gibson Main Street converted an empty city-owned lot in the central business district into a professionally designed and landscaped green space park and completely re-landscaped the adjacent three city blocks, adding 12-foot flowering shrubs, new benches and trash receptacles. This project was financed with available Main Street funds combined with corporate donations and grants/in-kind services from the City of Port Gibson and the Claiborne County Board of Supervisors. Corporate support included Entergy, RiverHills Bank, The Sallie M. Ross Memorial Fund, Inc. and State Bank and Trust. In 2008, this streetscape project was expanded to include the installation of several 4-sided information kiosks; each side of the kiosk is sponsored by a corporate entity whose logo appears on that side of the kiosk.
Also in 2008, the program renovated Lightfoot Park, which had been established in 1995 across from the Claiborne County Courthouse.
The 2009 Work Plan for the Port Gibson Main Street program includes additional work on the J. H. Lee building and the establishment of a Farmers’ Market within the Main Street district in collaboration with the Alcorn State University Extension service, the Claiborne County Board of Supervisors, the City of Port Gibson and Entergy.
Heritage Festival 2009
In March, Port Gibson Main Street held its 17th annual Heritage Festival in downtown Port Gibson, which is the major fundraiser for the program. It is a family-oriented event that includes a variety of music, arts and crafts, food vendors, children’s activities, including exhibits from the Jackson Zoo and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the 5K Dilla Dash, guided historical tours, carriage rides and traditional artists’ demonstrations.
As part of the on-going revitalization efforts, Port Gibson Main Street also promotes the downtown area by sponsoring a number of successful annual events including: an Easter Egg Hunt, Downtown Trick or Treat Party, Christmas Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling Program.
Plan a trip to this beautiful small town and check out Port Gibson’s Main Street District!