Going back in time with the Sisters of Mercy - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

02/20/09

Going back in time with the Sisters of Mercy

The complex of buildings takes up an entire block in Vicksburg. The three oldest buildings, the Cobb House, in the middle, built in 1830, the Convent, built in 1868, and the St. Francis Auditorium and classroom complex, built in 1885, sits directly across the street from a couple of Vicksburg's other historic buildings, the Balfour House and Pemberton's Headquarters.

Annette Kirklin is the executive director of the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation and tells us that, although some of the interior has been restored, like the auditorium that you've seen in the movie, "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" there's lots more to do.

"Many of the spaces are not usable, as with these rooms here. But hopefully in the HOPEFULLY near future, that we can utilize all the spaces of the buildings," said Annette Kirklin.

A church has rented the chapel used by the sisters in the lower levels of the convent. Much of the downstairs has been restored in the Cobb House and is open to the public.

But upstairs in the convent, it's still pretty much like it was when the Sisters left. The rooms where they lived are tiny and don't have any luxuries. You had to really want to be a nun. Annette says some of those ghost hunter shows on TV have wanted to come here and shoot episodes. Annette won't let them. The buildings aren't here to be haunted. Not by ghosts, anyway. Annette has another vision for them, to be full of people utilizing them.

"Have people come through the doors that have never been here before. And more awareness of the center is what I want and what I'm looking for," Kirklin said.

The old convent and school will be a part of Vicksburg's spring pilgrimage, it's called "Tapestry, a Living History of Vicksburg" and runs from March 13th through April 6th.

Touring the buildings is a fascinating step into the past. And a chance for you to see for yourself the once forbidden areas where the Sisters of Mercy of Vicksburg lived.

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