As inevitable as the warm air, blooming flowers and buzzing bees are as spring finally settles in, the season also brings Pilgrimage and all of its celebrations, antebellum home tours and horse-drawn carriage rides to the Friendly City.
Betty Bryan, Pilgrimage chair for the Preservation Society of Columbus, spoke to the Exchange Club on Thursday at Lion Hills Center about what this year’s Pilgrimage will entail and her own memories in the old homes in Columbus.
Though the Jubilee of Homes is known for its feature of antebellum homes with Greek revival architecture and period-appropriate furniture, this year’s event will include an array of architectural design styles.
“In 1940, an antebellum home built in 1860 was just 80 years old. So, now in 2023, we think it very appropriate to celebrate some more of Columbus’ distinctive architectural styles than just Greek revival,” Bryan said. “We included a few of them like the Colonial revival style of Ralph and Fred Null’s home ‘Sunset’ that was built in 1906, the craftsman bungalow style where Chase and James Hazard have recently remodeled the home they now call ‘Oakview’ and … the Tudor revival house that built in 1928. All of these homes are more than 80 years old. All have classic architectural style. We are thrilled to have them join our Jubilee of Homes.”
To encourage people to buy older homes to renovate and preserve them, Bryan said the National Trust for Historic Preservation no longer requires “museum-type furnishings and absolutely accurate representations of living in old houses.”
The change in rules allows homeowners to showcase the way their homes have been preserved while also allowing them to live in comfort.
“We want to show you an old house doesn’t have to look like a museum where you’re afraid to sit down in the spindly, little chairs,” Bryan said. “Many years ago when I was nine months pregnant, I went to a historic meeting at Shadowlawn. Clara Platt invited me in and pointed to a beautiful little loveseat. I went to sit down and leaned on the arm for support, and the whole arm fell off in the floor. I was horrified. She just picked it up, popped it back in place with a good whack and laughed. ‘It does that all the time,’ she said.”
The 83rd Annual Spring Pilgrimage will run from March 31 through April 23, and though the tour of homes is one of the main features, there will be “a smorgasbord of choices” for anyone attending the celebrations, Bryan said.
All across Columbus, there will be creative workshops, morning history walks, carriage rides, lunch and learn lectures, activities with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the nationally recognized Tales from the Crypt program put on by Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science students.
Chuck Yarborough, a history teacher at MSMS, has headed Tales from the Crypt for 22 years, and though the premise is always the same — to teach about important local historical figures and events — the stories his students tell differ.
“This year in particular, we have some amazing stories that deal with an immigrant in early 20th century Mississippi,” Yarborough said.
“We have stories that deal with the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek and John Pitchlynn, who was the translator for the Choctaw Nation. … Columbus has so much to offer to people who live here as well as people who visit.”
His students will perform their skits from 7 to 10 p.m. on April 12, 14, 19 and 21 at Friendship Cemetery. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for all students from kindergarten through university.
Because the celebration takes place during Easter weekend, there will be an Easter egg hunt paired with a story time from Edwina Williams dressed as “Mother Bunny” at 10 a.m. April 8 at the Lee Home, 316 7th St N. Tickets to attend the egg hunt are $10 per child and can be purchased online at preservecolumbus.com/events.
The full schedule of events and tickets to attend the various events are available online, and Bryan said she encourages that. However, members of the Preservation Society will be at the Tennessee Williams Home and Welcome Center beginning March 27 for those wanting to purchase their tickets in person. One ticket for a full day’s events is $115, but individual events range from $5 to $40.
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