1302 Adams Street
Stacey M. Mahoney
Board of Directors:
Nancy H. Bell
A Brief History of the Cultural Center
The Cultural Center, formerly the St. Francis Xavier Convent and Academy, is one of the most architecturally and historically significant city blocks in downtown Vicksburg. It is composed of five buildings representing a chronology of American architectural history between 1830 and 1955: the Cobb House (circa 1830), the Sisters of Mercy Convent (1868), the Auditorium (1885), the Academy Building (1937, and the O’Beirne Gymnasium (1955). The Cultural Center has been designated a Mississippi Landmark and the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Sisters of Mercy taught in these buildings from 1860 until 1991 when the few remaining nuns moved to a new convent and the school relocated to more modern facilities. In 1992, participants at seven community meetings, part of the Vicksburg Riverfront and Cultural Landscape Study, identified the pressing need for a multi-use cultural center. In 1994, the City bought the block and formed the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation to answer that need and manage the Cultural Center.
Perpetuating the Sisters' educational mission, emphasizing the humanities and the arts, the Cultural Center offers a space in which residents and tourists of all ages, races, and religions may explore and celebrate the uniqueness of Vicksburg and the lower Mississippi Delta.
In 2001, the City of Vicksburg signed over the deed for the Cultural Center to the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation. Since that time, the SCHF provides services through funding from corporate and private gifts, membership fees, and national, state, and local grants. The auditorium, classrooms, and gym are available to rent for receptions, performances, and diverse community educational and recreational activities.
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History granted SCHF funds to repair interior damage and to restore the Cobb House (circa 1830), the oldest building on the property. Work was completed in 2005. The Cobb House has been named an affiliate of the Mississippi Museum of Art. It is also available for tours.
Goals for the Future
The goal of SCHF is to continue to serve the Vicksburg community through all existing programs and add a variety of new and enriching workshops, performances, lectures, and exhibits. By increasing the number and variety of programs offered, we will appeal to a larger, more diverse audience.
The River Kids after school program, primarily a visual arts program, introduced River Kids Music in September of 2003. Currently, 90 children each semester can be exposed to art and music education for free. The goal is to introduce drama and performing arts in the upcoming semesters. By broadening the program to include other art forms, we can serve more children in the community and appeal to the interests of a wider variety of children.
The SCHF plans to expand membership through pledge drives and to increase corporate giving. The staff will continue to seek granting opportunities for programming and for building restoration and maintenance. With the help and support of generous members, volunteers, and contributors the SCHF will continue to enrich the life of every member of the community.
If you would like more information about our events, membership programs, or volunteer opportunities, please contact us.
Our offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For guided tour information, click Tour Program.
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