The writers Mississippi has produced have filled bookcase upon bookcase around the world. And the films made from those writings have filled endless hours on the motion picture screen. And our playwrights have crafted some of the longest runs on Broadway.
One of those playwrights was born here in this house a hundred years ago this year; Tennessee Williams. Only he was Tom Williams back then. The home was once the Episcopal parsonage in Columbus. Tom and his mother and brother and sister lived with his mother's parents. His grandfather, Walter Dakin, was the pastor of the Columbus church at the time.
The house has been lovingly restored over the years and is the first building to catch your eye as you make the curve into downtown Columbus. It is the Columbus Visitors Center now. So, obviously, you are welcomed to visit it.
By the time Tom was three years old, Rev. Dakin transferred to Clarksdale. And there are houses there associated with Tennessee Williams, too, particularly the Cutrer Mansion. The mansion plays prominently as the inspiration for the setting for some of Williams' plays. Not to mention, Blanch Cutrer, inspiring such characters as Blanch Dubois in "A Streetcar Named Desire."
But the setting of the Delta itself, with its endless acres of rich farmland and oxbow lakes and swamps, haunts the backdrop of plays like "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." And Tennessee Williams one play written expressly for the screen, "Baby Doll", is set in the Delta and was filmed near Benoit. This is how the Baby Doll house looked a few years ago. It wasn't in much better shape in the 1950's when the movie was filmed here. Since then, the house has been restored. Hardly recognizable from when it was in the movies.
But this is the grandest of all the houses in Mississippi associated with Tennessee Williams; his early childhood home in Columbus. And this, the hundredth anniversary of the year of his birth, you'll find all sorts of activities commemorating him in Columbus and Clarksdale this year.
And check out this house and take a look at the home that was first stop on the way to a career as Mississippi's most celebrated playwright.
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