Saturday, July 29, 2017

Echoes of the Past from a Real Place

The Haven, Columbus, MS

As Columbus, Mississippi, celebrates it's second-hundredth year, it's a rewarding experience to walk around the iconic buildings in the town. Just off the main drag through downtown and a couple of blocks west of the busy 5th Street, stands a house with a history that reflects what Columbus once was and still is—a place of change and timelessness. It's both the New South and progressive and not tied to stereotypes and surprisingly willing to accommodate both liberal and conservative voices and people; but it is also part of the Deep South, the Old South with its ancient prejudices and post-Civil-War attitude. Cliff had discovered a home in Columbus online called The Haven, which was built in 1843 by two freed men. And then one day, he and I decided to stop by there and look around. After many decades it is now for sale.

"The Haven is nestled in a shady lot just across from the Trotter Convention Center (downtown) and sits on a hill which, 170 years ago when the home was new, would have overlooked downtown antebellum Columbus," The Commercial Dispatch, July 19, 2017. According to the article, The Haven was commissioned—and possibly built by brothers Thomas and Isaac Williams, who were freedmen of color. And, also according to the article, Rufus Ward says, "...the real interest is that it was a freed black family that lived there in antebellum times." To me, this fits with the kind of place Columbus has always been, unconventional in super-conventional times like the old South. The Haven was (probably) built by and for freedmen, the Williams brothers, but it is not the only structure in Columbus that was built by former slaves. The first bridge over the Tom-Bigbee river was built by slaves, as well. According to the article, in the 1850s and in the years leading up to the Civil War, a lot of attitudes were changing toward free blacks. While early on the Williams brothers might have been accepted, they might not have been later. One of the brothers moved to Texas in 1858, and the house was sold to a man named Adam Gabs. The property stayed in this family for a long time.

And now it is for sale. The architectural style is similar to homes built in the Carolinas, and in fact the Williams were from there. They were also master builders. However, a visit to the realtor website will provide more information for those interested in the house. There you will see 24 pictures of both the interior and exterior. This is truly iconic and historical home in Columbus, MS, and shouldn't be missed.

Closer in time but still as integral to its past as the historic homes is the music that emanates from the Southern DNA. Below is a two-hour video, "Slow and Sexy Blues Music Compilation, 2017".  Put this video on and go about your business, just allowing the music to flow freely in your home. It's well worth listening to.