A good friend of mine in Mississippi just sent the following to me. I thought it worthwhile to post it here for your information. Those of you who are more familiar with Port Gibson's CW historical sites will be better able to inform the rest of us if the Mississippi DOT's plans might jeopardize any CW sites in or near Port Gibson.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has proposed maintaining the route of US Highway 61 on Church Street in Port Gibson instead of constructing a bypass around town. On May 11, 2003, the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson adopted the following statement:
Keeping the route of US Highway 61 down Church Street and moving traffic closer to the current curbing would have many adverse effects on our historic buildings:
* The vibrations from heavy trucks will weaken the integrity of the foundations of the Sanctuary (a masonry structure built in 1860) and the Manse (built on masonry piers in 1831). The Sanctuary is 52 feet from where traffic is proposed to be routed, and the Manse is only 48 feet from the curb.
* The Church makes regular use of parking spaces on Church Street. These spaces are even more critical during special events such as weddings and funerals.
* Because we have many elderly members, it is important to
have as much parking as possible close to the front door of the Sanctuary. This requires parking to be available on Church Street.
* It is imperative that funeral processions be able to line up on Church Street and that hearses be able to park as close as possible to the front door of the Sanctuary. All of the seven churches on Church Street have front doors that open on Church Street, and all require such access.
* We host tourists from all over the world who come to see our Sanctuary, with its unique hand pointing to heaven. Eliminating parking on Church Street will discourage many people from stopping to visit this architectural treasure, and would be a hazard for those who try to cross the street on foot.
* Moving traffic closer to the sidewalks will discourage tourist foot traffic, which is heavy in front of both the Manse and the Sanctuary. It will further denigrate the residential setting of all our historic buildings, which is already compromised by the presence of the four-lane highway through the neighborhood.
* We would appreciate as many people as possible visiting the following website and signing the petition opposing MDOT's action.
Please forward this e-mail to all those whom you think would be interested in signing the petition. Thank you in advance for helping us keep Port Gibson a wonderful place to live (and visit!).
Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson, Mississippi
Chaplain, Chamberlain-Hunt Academy