JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Old Capitol has been closed for a while, but it’s slowly reopening. A lot of history happened in that building. A lot of historic figures have spoken there. It’s been undergoing repairs for several years, but it’s reopened in a limited capacity already.
The three oldest government buildings in Jackson are the Old Capitol, City Hall and the Governor’s Mansion. The Old Capitol is the oldest by a few years. It was built in 1839 and served as the capitol building of Mississippi until the new facility was built in 1903. After that, the Old Capitol was dormant and was almost torn down.
“It was slated for demolition. But a very smart man, who was our first Director of Archives and History, saw the importance of the building, saw that it was probably one of the most historic government buildings in the state, and pushed the Legislature to save the building and come up with new uses for the building,” said Mingo Tingle with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH).
The Old Capitol has been used for various things through the decades, including storage. It became a museum in the 1960s. Hurricane Katrina shut it down for a while because of damage to the roof. That’s what had it shut down again this time, roof damage.
Besides what was done here, who has been here and spoken here, the architecture is outstanding. Small groups can tour by appointment right now. The building is available for functions. People like the foyer staircase for wedding pictures. Might even be able to use the building for weddings soon.
“When people leave here, we want them to know the historic events that changed not only Mississippi, but America. Also, we want them to have that impression of the architecture of this building. The Greek Revival style that it was built in and that it was built to last,” said Tingle.
Against all odds, underuse to hurricanes, it has lasted. It’s better than new today.
MDAH is revamping and repairing many of its properties like the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, Jefferson College and the Winsor Ruins.