“Well, I recall just how interesting it was riding down here with some friends of mine, talking about the cannonball church and riding by seeing the cannonball in the side of the church.” That’s how Shannon Watts remembers finding the nearly extinct town of Rodney, about half way between Vicksburg and Natchez, WAY back in the backwoods, and it’s most popular attraction, the old Presbyterian Church with the cannonball in the front wall marking where it was shelled by a Union gunboat in the Civil War. But little did Shannon know then that all these years later he would be the Treasurer of the Rodney History and Preservation Society, the group that just became the new owners of the aging Rodney Presbyterian Church. And that’s the big news, by the way, that the church has been sold.
Angel Holland is the President of the Rodney Preservation Society. “Well, in 30 years I can’t tell you how many buildings I’ve seen leave Rodney. This is an old building and it’s part of the Civil War so I think it’s pretty significant that we save this one.”
And ‘save this one’ is the goal of the Rodney Society. The old church was renovated about thirty years ago and since then time has undone most of it. But most urgently, the south wall has begun to buckle away from the rest of the building. It will take about 60 thousand dollars to stabilize the wall, and then around 400-thousand dollars to do a complete renovation.
Why do that? Well, believe it or not, this old church is one of the state’s major tourists attractions. Shannon says, “I mean there are people here every weekend that are from all over the United States and really from abroad.”
And that’s not an exaggeration. In a part of the state where tourism about the biggest industry right now, losing history is not an option. Nobody’s going to come see where something USED to be.
Angel sums it up, “It’s just something I don’t want to see gone.”