The first stop was the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center for the City of Columbus. This restored Victorian residence was the first home of the Pulitzer-winning playwright who wrote Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and a number of other dramas that reflect his southern heritage.
After orientation to the city’s history and attractions, a tour of two of the city’s many antebellum homes followed.
Columbus is unique in that most of its 650 historic homes are occupied by their owners, rather than being museum homes used only for public tours and events. The owners of both the stately Whitehall, a Greek Revival townhouse, and Rosedale, spoke to the group about living in the historic mansions.
Rosedale’s owner personally escorted the tour group through that Italianate mansion, built c. 1856. It contains what is considered some of the finest examples of period antiques in the country. Though the home’s private spaces have been adapted for modern living, its public spaces have been restored as nearly as possible to their pre-Civil War appearance.
Lunch at Harvey’s Restaurant gave the Simpson County group time to visit with the step-on guide for the day, a Columbus native who is an expert on the history of this city whose site on the Tombigbee River was first mentioned in the writings of Hernando de Soto in 1540.
The group learned that during the Civil War, Columbus maintained an arsenal that made gunpowder and weapons and was known as a hospital city for wounded troops. For those reasons, it was strongly defended by General Nathan Bedford Forrest. As a result, most of the city’s antebellum homes were spared, and Columbus boasts a collection of homes second only to Natchez in size.
Rounding out the day, the group made a driving tour of well-known city sites such as Friendship Cemetery, where Memorial Day began; MUW, the first public college for women in America; and Historic Downtown Columbus, a premier example of the Main Street Mississippi program.
Peoples Bank Platinum club’s next trip is a seven-day motorcoach adventure to Washington, D. C., and Williamsburg, Va., departing from Magee on May 10 and returning May 16. For information on the trip, Platinum Club membership or activities, contact Oliver McLean, Platinum Club director, at 601-832-1732 or Abbie Patrick at Peoples Bank, 601-849-2210.