south mississippi scene • 9
STORY BY ROYCE ARMSTRONGPHOTOS COURTESY MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORYCLAY WILLIAMS
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The Old Capitol
Mississippi legislators wouldhear whispers reaching back170 years when they next con-vene in their opening sessionfor 2009.“I am excited about theopportunity to be able to returnto the Old Capitol and openthe 2009 legislative session. Itis a great honor for me to beable to return to the placewhere so many of the state’sgreat leaders from the pasthave served this state,” com-mented Representative DerykParker of Lucedale.The Legislature will hold itsopening session in the newlyrestored Old Capitol buildingon the anniversary of the 1839opening session, the first leg-islative session to be held there.The Old Capitol will openfor general admission onSaturday, January 10.“The political history of thestate during that time has real-ly defined the growth of thestate,” said Clay Williams, thedirector of the Old CapitolMuseum. “The state grew froma small, frontier state to a mem- ber of the solid cotton growingSouth, the Civil War,Reconstruction and up to the beginning of the 20th century.”The capitol of Mississippiwas originally located inNatchez, Williams said. Thelegislature decided to move itto a more central location andthe small town of Jackson waschosen.At the time Jackson had dirtstreets and boardwalks in frontof the stores and businessesserving its 1,000 residents. The building, originally called theState House, is a three storyGreek revival structuredesigned by British architectWilliam Nichols. It was thethird and final statehousedesigned by Nichols and was