Monday, June 28, 2021

A Short Visit to Hattiesburg Mississippi

Having exhausted our list of places to go and things to see in Laurel Mississippi and environs, we decided to branch out.  Looking at a map I had noted that Hattiesburg was just about 35 minutes south of Laurel on I-55.  I’d done a little research…just in case we decided to expand our horizons, so off we went.

Given my attraction to railroading, of course I had to check out Hattiesburg’s old New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad Depot.  This impressive structure was designed in the Italian Renaissance style and it’s capped with a clay-tile roof.
Back in the day this depot’s 15,000 sq. ft. interior included a 4,000 sq. ft. waiting room.  The passenger loading platform…now significantly shortened…was almost 3 blocks long and it was covered by a 924 foot long canopy.  The station has been in Continuous use since it was built…today serving as the AMTRAK depot for the City of New Orleans route between Chicago Illinois and New Orleans Louisiana. 

Some claim that Hattiesburg…and especially the train station…are the birthplace of rock and roll.  The 1936 recordings by Blind Roosevelt Graves, his brother Uaroy and pianist Cooney Vaughn…aka the “Mississippi Jook Band”, were made at the depot. 

In 2000, the City of Hattiesburg purchased the depot from Norfolk Southern Railways and then initiated a 7 year, $10 million restoration and improvement project.  The restored depot was rededicated in the spring of 2007.  It now functions as an intermodal transportation center and a space for meetings, exhibitions and special events.

I was very pleased to find this fine old steam locomotive on display next to the Hattiesburg Depot.  This 78 ton locomotive, Bonhomie and Hattiesburg Southern #300, was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925.  It hauled freight on the short line railroad between Hattiesburg and nearby Beaumont until 1961.  This locomotive was one of the last steam locomotives in regular service in the USA.  Old #300’s use ceased with the passing of the master mechanic who had maintained it.

On display immediately behind #300 is Baggage Car #4531.  This former Pullman sleeping unit that was originally built in the 1920s, was converted by Southern Railway into its current baggage express configuration in 1963.

This little locomotive is a type that I haven’t encountered too often.  This is a Heisler Fireless 0-4-0.  It was originally built as Hercules Powder Company #35.  It served the Hattiesburg plant from 1946 until 1958. 

Fireless locomotives are charged with steam from an external source, in this case the factory or plant’s boilers.  While operating, fireless locomotives are much safer in a high risk environment…such as a munitions plant, fertilizer factory or refinery.  The downside is that they have limited range and need to be frequently re-charged.

Time for a beer break!  A little research revealed the presence of the Southern Prohibition Brewing Company near downtown Hattiesburg.  We had to check it out.  It’s great to see re-use of older structures that have been left behind by ‘progress’.

The inside of Southern Prohibition Brewing Company features a lounge style room with couches and some carpets.  We settled down in the main room with the bar and beer menu on the wall.  Another area was set aside for souvenir and other related products.

I’m not a beer aficionado…hence my light American lager behind that first flight of different SPB products.   I love some of the names that these local breweries come up with for their various brews.  The top flight includes a sample of my choice, followed by ‘Devil’s Harvest’, ‘Crowd Control 4X’, and ‘Space to Face’.  The second flight added in a ‘Suzy B Blonde Ale’ and a ‘Mexican Lager’.  

I was hoping that someone would try a ‘Sherbet Sherpa’, ‘Golden Spiral’ or a ‘Coconut Macchinto Three Pumps Banana’.  Check out the SPB's website at: Home | Southern Prohibition Brewing Company (

Southern Prohibition Brewery has a nice outdoor area as well.  It feature a play area for small children, tables with umbrellas and a couple of food trucks.  Great blended concept! 

This very eclectic shopping experience or happening was just about a block away from the brewery.  The ‘Lucky Rabbit’ is a hyped up…jazzed up edition of the all too common multi-vendor leased space selling just about anything that one can imagine to customers browsing through the various booths.  To its credit, the ‘Lucky Rabbit’ is different in that it’s overall appearance has been so wildly and interestingly formulated that even I…not a ‘browser’ or a shopper…had to wander its aisles. 

This is the sight that hits you as you walk through the Lucky Rabbit’s front door.  POW!  Right away the customer knows that this is not your everyday rental booth shopping destination…

Check out the following photos to pick up more of the bold and colorful flavor of this shopping attraction.

This is a big building… In addition to the main floor, there is a mezzanine and several nooks and crannies to explore.  I personally loved the old signage and the quirky nature of this place. 

I came across this Ronald McDonald personality occupying a bench at the back of the store.  A couple of ladies who were shopping together obligingly posed for this picture…but one closed her eyes as I took the photo.

Both the Southern Prohibition Brewery and the Lucky Rabbit are located in an area close to downtown Hattiesburg that has seen better times.  That ruin is right across the street from the Lucky Rabbit and the old Coca Cola Bottling Plant is about a block away.

This was the second location for the Hattiesburg Coca-Cola Bottling Company, which was founded in 1906.  It moved to this building in 1915 and continued to operate as a bottling plant until 1960.  Several other businesses have occupied the building over intervening years.

Hattiesburg is the county seat for Forrest County.  The city was founded in 1882 by William Hardy, a pioneer lumberman and civil engineer.  It is situated at the junction of the Leaf and Bouie Rivers.  Hardy named the city in the honor of his wife, Hattie.  Due to the several railroads which served the city as well as the fact that it was the center of Mississippi’s lumber industry, Hattiesburg is known as “The Hub City”.  The city has a population of about 46,000. 

Even though the city is about 75 miles inland, Hurricane Katrina hit it hard back in 2005.  About 10,000 structures in the area suffered major damage from the winds and rain.  About 80% of Hattiesburg’s roads were blocked by trees and power was out for about 2 weeks.  Twenty-four people in the area were killed by the storm.

I thought that I’d end with a little humor… Someone, probably from the Lucky Rabbit, set up this clear and accurate cut-out of Bernie Sanders, a former Presidential candidate and current Senator from Vermont.  This was how Bernie was dressed at the Biden Presidential inauguration in Washington D.C.  He was getting plenty of attention on this warm day from the shoppers and tourists…although Mississippi isn’t exactly Bernie country… It was a chuckle for sure!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Further Exploration – Laurel and Vicinity

…continuing with our short trip to Mississippi with Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill.  We’d finished what we wanted to see in Laurel so we decided to explore the small towns around the area to see what we could see that was interesting.

But, before we move on, somehow I missed including this mansion in my recap of historic homes in the city of Laurel.  I love that huge tree that partially blocks the sightline of the house’s front entrance.  Located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street, this Prairie style home was built in 1903.  This more than 7,000 sq. ft. home was built for Nina and Wallace Rogers.  Wallace was one of the successful area lumber barons and the couple were the parents of Lauren Rogers, whom the Art Museum was named after…  

In 1950 the house passed on to relatives of the Rogers family.  At the new owner’s bequest, in early January of 2003, the home became the property of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art.  The museum uses the upper portion of the house for offices and rents out the lower level for meetings, receptions and similar events.  The original carriage house which is behind the home, is now used as studio space where art classes are offered.  The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This home in nearby Ellisville is also listed on the National Register.  The Deason House was built in 1845 by Amos Deason, who was one of the wealthiest men in the area.  The home is also a centerpiece to a notable and bloody piece of history. 

When the time came for Mississippi to vote for or against secession from the Union, Jones County residents refused to get involved.  They were mostly poor farmers or laborers and owned few slaves.  Their delegate to the state Capitol in Jackson, was Amos Deason and he was instructed to vote against secession.  There has been considerable debate about why or how it happened but Deason ended up voting for the south’s departure from the Union… His home played a bloody role in the conflict that followed in Jones County.  

During the war, many of the younger men went off to fight, leaving people’s homes and farms defenseless with old men, women and children just struggling to survive.  The situation was aggravated by the Confederate cavalry, when as part of their mission to find food and supplies for the army, they raided Jones County, taking most of the food and livestock. 

At the beginning of the war, some Jones County men had joined the Confederacy but many others refused to fight until the draft was instituted in 1862.  One of those men who joined the army was Newt Knight.  Even though he had enlisted, he refused to fight for the cause and instead served as a hospital orderly.  Everything changed for him when a law was passed that stated that any man who owned 20 or more slaves could avoid military service.  Like many others, Knight was now convinced that it was a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight” so he deserted and went home...

Learn more about this story involving the Deason House and Newt Knight below…fittingly following the monument to the Confederate Soldier.

I couldn’t discover why…but Jones County has 2 almost identical courthouses, one in Laurel and one in Ellisville, just a few miles away.  My best guess is that since Jones County was formed from 2 other counties, and both towns had been county seats since 1826, some kind of compromise was reached as regarded governance of the new county… Laurel is the Second Judicial District in County and I’m assuming that Ellisville serves the First Judicial District.  The cornerstone for this courthouse is dated July 4, 1908 and Laurel’s is dated July 8, 1907.

FYI…Jones County is named for John Paul Jones, a Scottish immigrant who rose from a humble background to military success in the Revolutionary War.  He is considered one of the ‘fathers’ of the United States Navy.  Later in his career, he was an Admiral in the Russian Navy.

This Confederate Monument is located on the lawn near one corner of the Ellisville Courthouse.  In these days of enhanced civil rights and racial awareness, I was surprised to find an intact Confederate monument on county property, but this particular statue has been part of the civic landscape here since 1912. 

FYI… In 1860, the majority of white residents in Jones County did not own slaves.  Slaves represented only 12% of the county’s population, the smallest percentage of any county in the state.  Of course, part of the reason for this fact was that the pine forests, swamp and soil here were not favorable for the cultivation of cotton.

…continuing with the story about the Deason House and Newt Knight. 

Knight formed a renegade army of about 100 other deserters and they hid out at in the Leaf River Swamp.  They would come out of the swamp to visit family, work their farms and conduct raids on trains headed to and from the port at Mobile Alabama.  Confederate troops were determined to capture Knight and his followers but they were unsuccessful. 

Finally, the Confederacy sent a native of Jones County, Major Amos McLemore, to capture Knight.  McLemore knew the swamps and forest almost as well as Knight and they came very close to the deserter’s hideout.  Realizing that something had to be done to avoid capture, Knight determined to kill Major McLemore.

The Major had made his headquarters in the home of Amos Deason.  On a rainy afternoon after McLemore had returned to the home, Newt threw open the door of the house and shot the Major at point blank range, killing him.  Although pursued by McLemore’s men, Newt escaped back into the swamp. 

Newt Knight survived the war, joined the Republican Party and was appointed as a Deputy US Marshall.  He later married a ‘freedwoman’ who had been one of his grandfather’s slaves.  Under Mississippi law, inter racial marriage wasn’t legal.  As late as 1964, 2 of Newt’s great-great-grandchildren were refused admission to a white school as they were 1/16th and 1/32nd black.

Circling back to the Deason House… Major McLemore’s blood seeped into the pine floor and no matter the amount of scrubbing, it couldn’t be removed.  New flooring final covered the stain but the story is that it didn’t stop the front door of the house from bursting open on the anniversary of the murder each year…only to reveal a silent empty porch.  In 1991 the Deason family gave the home to the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Several members of the group have admitted to being very uncomfortable about being in the house alone…

Two movies about Newt Knight and this story have been released over the years.  The first in 1942 was entitled “Tap Roots” and it starred Van Heflin and Susan Hayward.  In 2016, “The Free State of Jones” was released.  It featured Matthew McConaughey, Mahershala Ali and Keri Russell.

This is the United States Post Office in Ellisville Mississippi.  The only reason I’ve included this photo is that I’ve never seen a red post office.  One would never guess that it was part of the US government…

Today Ellisville is a town of about 4,600 residents.  It was named for Powhatan Ellis, a former US Senator for Mississippi who identified as a descendant of Pocahontas and her father, Chief Powhatan in Virginia. 

In 1919, the town saw the gruesome hanging of a black man who had a white girlfriend.  Based on a trumped up charge of rape, he was hung in front of a crowd of about 10,000 people.  Commemorative postcards were even printed for the ‘event’.

On a more positive note, several notable people come from Jones County.  They include: Lance Bass, singer with NSYNC; actress Parker Posey; Operatic Soprano Leontyne Price, and: Ray Walston from the TV show “My Favorite Martian”.  That show was one of our favorites!

Following Ellisville, we looped around to Seminary Mississippi in Covington County.  The town is so named because an early seminary had been established there.  Seminary now has less than 300 residents but they have done a nice job of preserving this old railway depot.  The former Gulf and Ship Island Rail Road Depot has been restored and now serves as the Covington County Genealogical Society’s Library and meeting location.

Since we were in another county, it was time for another county courthouse.  The Covington County Courthouse in Collins Mississippi was completed in 1907. 

Collins has been through boom and bust over the years with populations ranging from 7,000 to as little as 700.  There has been a resurgence in recent years thanks to the town’s location at the intersection of 2 major highways.

Notable residents of Collins and Covington County have included: 1940s actor Dana Andrews; actor Gerald McRaney (“Major Dads”, “Simon and Simon”, “Longmire”, “House of Cards” and, “This is Us”)

The old Collins railroad passenger station has been well taken care of.  I’m not sure when it was built but due to an on-line ‘find’, I know that it’s at least 114 years old.  Like the depot in Seminary, this railroad station was originally built by the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad.  Today this depot is a pleasant venue for community, private and civic events. 

Originally Collins wasn’t named Collins.  It was originally incorporated as Williamsburg Depot in 1899.  The railroad had completed construction and it had bypassed the town of Williamsburg, which was the county seat at the time.  The sawmills were then moved to the new “Williamsburg Depot” to be closer to the railroad and the rest of the town followed.  The name of the town was changed to Collins in order to reduce confusion with the original town as well as other ‘Williamsburgs’… 

The reason I know that the depot is more than 114 years old is that I found this postcard on line.  It shows the busy Collins Depot in 1907.  Note the locomotive coming down the track…

The Gulf and Ship Island Railroad was built in Mississippi at the turn of the 20th century in order to open the state’s vast tracts of southern yellow pine forests for commercial harvesting.  The railroad helped expand cities along its route and it also led to the development of a seaport.  By 1902, the 74 mile route between Gulfport and Hattiesburg boasted an average of one sawmill and one turpentine distillery for every 3 miles of track.  In 1907 alone, the railroad transported 800,000,000 board feet of southern yellow pine lumber from south central Mississippi to Gulfport.

That’s all for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, June 21, 2021

Italian Cuisine for Dinner – Laurel Mississippi

…continuing with our recent trip to Mississippi with Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill.  For our last dinner in Laurel before we headed back to East Tennessee, we’d decided to go Italian.

This is Mimmo’s Restaurante Pizzeria in downtown Laurel.  Like most restaurants and entertainment venues, there was a help wanted sign in the front window.  Reviews were good…except for slow and uneven service but we weren’t in any hurry.

Here are a couple of views of the inside of Mimmo’s Restaurante.  Tables are well spaced, the brick wall is an interesting architectural detail, the ceilings are very high and, for added interest, there is that big fountain in the middle of the dining area.

It had be a long day of shopping and exploring so we were ready for an adult beverage.  The beer selection was limited but we all found one that we like, with 3 Blue Moons and a Stella Artois.

Service was slow at the start and our waitress wasn’t the most organized person in the room…

So how about the food?  Bonnie and Bill shared the Cozze Bianche…fresh mussels in white wine sauce.  They really enjoyed their appetizer and the sauce was terrific.  It was a great start…but more bread was needed to mop up that sauce!

I ordered the Gamberi alla Diavolo as our appetizer.  A nice serving of large shrimp were sautéed in garlic and crushed red pepper and served with marinara sauce.  The shrimp were very large and fresh and the spicy garlicy marinara sauce was a winner!  Plus in this instance there were two pieces of bread that enabled us to finish off the sauce.

Both the Caesar salads and the house salads which came with our meals were fresh.  The only problem was the not unexpected delays in getting our food.  There was a big gap between our appetizers and our salads showing up…

The kitchen must have been short staffed as well.  We could only see one overworked chef at work and he was running fast.  We kept speculating which table would receive their entrees next…

The good news is that when we did get our entrees, it was worth the wait!  This was Bill’s Spaghetti Pescatora.  It contained Gulf shrimp, mussels, clams and calamari with spaghetti all sautéed in a garlic white wine sauce.  Two thumbs up!

Laurie and Bonnie had already sated their appetites with samples of the appetizers, a bit of bread dipped in sauces plus salad, so they decided to order and share what they thought would be a small Margherita Pizza with basil, oregano, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce.  They couldn’t even finish half of this larger than expected pizza!

I selected the Veal Saltimbocca for my entrée.  Lightly breaded and pan seared veal tenderloin was topped with imported prosciutto and mozzarella in a light brown sauce, then served over angel hair pasta.  It was almost too much to eat…but I managed anyway.  It was excellent!

Our food was top notch.  We were forewarned that service was slow so that wasn’t as big a problem as it would be for many…or even for me if I hadn’t expected delays.  We spent well over 2 hours at Mimmo’s but given the quality of the food, it was worth the effort.  Five stars for food, 4 for ambiance and no more than 2 stars for service.

Mimmo’s has 3 locations in Mississippi, Quitman, Meridian and Laurel.  The Laurel restaurant is at 312 Central Avenue.  Phone: 601-342-2098.  Their website is at:, but the best ‘current view’ of their full menu can be found at   

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Remarkable Art Museum…in Laurel Mississippi

Laurel Mississippi is not a big city.  The estimated current population is somewhere in the vicinity of 18,500 although Jones County has a population close to 70,000 residents.  In any case, cities or counties of this size are rarely homes to significant art museums.  Laurel is an exception to this rule!

The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is located on Fifth Avenue, surrounded by early 20th Century homes, and only a block from the center of town.  The museum opened in 1923.  It is a memorial to Lauren Eastman Rogers, the only grandson of two of Laurel’s founding families.  Lauren died from complications of appendicitis at the age of 23. 

His father, Wallace Brown Rogers and his maternal grandfather, Lauren Chase Eastman, created the Eastman Memorial Foundation.  Its intent was to “promote the public welfare by founding, endowing and maintaining a public library, museum, art gallery and educational institution.  The museum and library was erected in 1923, on the foundations of Lauren Roger’s house, which had not been completed at the time of his death.

This beautiful Georgian Revival structure, now almost 100 years old, has been enlarged over the years.  The original building not only served as art museum, but it also served as Laurel’s town library.  A new wing, with 5 new display galleries, was added in 1924.  Another addition was completed in 1983.

This beautiful lobby was originally part of the library.  With its quarter-sawn golden oak paneling and cork floors, it is a stunning space.  Craftsmen created detailed naturalistic motifs, including constellations, the earth, moon and sun in plaster on the ceiling.  Hand wrought iron gates, railings and hardware throughout the original building were created by a master blacksmith in Pennsylvania.

No longer the town’s general library, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art Library is now a reference library containing more than 10,000 books specializing in art history and art reference with special emphasis on the Museum’s collections.  Library materials may only be used in the library.

I took this photo of Laurie, her sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill, as they perused some of the materials on display in Museum’s Reading Room.  The original art gallery was housed in this room which is adjacent to the main lobby.  The room is filled with family memorabilia and portraits as well as furnishings from the home of Lauren’s mother, Nina Eastman Rogers.

When we entered the library we were greeted by volunteers and docents, one of which met with us in the Reading Room.  She did a nice job of providing us with the background and history of the founding family and of the museum.  FYI, the museum is free but of course, donations are welcome. 

Following our orientation, we began our tour of the various galleries.  I took a representative group of photos as we went along. 

The painting at the top of the photo is entitled “Autumn in New Hampshire”.  This oil on canvas painting was completed in 1857 by Albert Bierstadt (1830 – 1902) He began painting scenes in New England and upstate New York and he was part of a group of artists known as the Hudson River School.  Bierstadt is best known for his painting of the western United States.

The lower painting is named “Harvest Moon” and it was painted by Ralph Albert Blakelock. (1847 – 1919.  The date of the painting is unknown.  Blakelock was a romanticist American painter known for his landscape paintings related to the ‘Tonalism’ movement.  Basically, tonalism refers to the painting of landscape forms with an overall tone of colored atmosphere or mist.

The museum also owns works by Winslow Homer, George Inness, John Kensett, John H. Twachtman and John Singer Sargent.  It is one of the finest collections of 19th and 20th century paintings that can be found in the southern United States.

This painting is entitled “A Glimpse of Long Island Sound from Montauk” and it was finished in 1907.  The artist was Thomas Moran. (1837 – 1926) Like Bierstadt, Moran was a member of the Hudson River School who moved on to become even more famous for his paintings of the American west.

The circular shape of this painting is called a ‘tondo’ and it was invented by ancient Greek artists.  This oil on canvas painting is titled “Voice of the Sea”.  It was finished in 1908 by Stephen A. Douglas Volk. (1856 - 1935) Volk was an American portrait and figure painter as well as a muralist and educator.  He taught at the Art Students League of New York and he was one of the founders of the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts

This is “Portrait of Nicholas Brewer II”, ca. 1800.  It was painted by James Peale (1749 – 1831), brother of prolific portraitist Charles Wilson Peale.  Charles famously painted several portraits of George Washington.  Although James is better known for his miniatures and his still life paintings, he too painted portraits, at least one of which was also of Washington.  

This work is entitled “The Mystery of a Southern Night”.  It was painted in 1941 by William Hollingsworth. (1910 – 1944) Hollingsworth was from Jackson Mississippi but he studied art at the Chicago Art Institute.  

When Hollingsworth returned to the south, he became particularly interested in the African American residents of the city who were kept separate from the white society.  Hollingsworth produced a plethora of paintings in his short life.  He committed suicide when he was only 34.  His better works can be purchased from various auction houses for between $4,000 and $8,000, but “The Mystery of a Southern Night” is considered one of his very finest.

This painting of a cadet is entitled “Portrait of Harmon Smith”.  It was completed in 1937 by Howard Chandler Christy (1873 – 1952) Christy was an American artist and illustrator.  He created the “Christy Girl”, a colorful successor to the “Gibson Girl”.  Christy is also known for his World War I military recruiting and Liberty loan posters.  His 1940 masterpiece, entitled “Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States” is on display along the east stairwell of the US Capitol. 

To view this patriotic painting at the Capitol you can go to:

This oil paints on Masonite painting by Reginald Marsh (1898 – 1954) is titled “East River” and it was completed in 1952.  Early in his career, Marsh was a newspaper illustrator.  An American painter, Marsh was born in Paris but he is most noted for his depictions of life in New York City during the 1920’s and 1930s.  His murals that were created in 1937 line the arched ceiling of the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House. 

In addition, two of his murals that were created as part of the Treasury Department’s Section of Fine Arts Depression era programs, are on display at the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building.  This one is entitled “Sorting the Mail” and since I have a ‘thing’ for depression era murals, I ‘had to’ include it. 

Back to the exhibits at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel Mississippi… Around 1900, Catherine Gardiner read an article about Native American baskets and with the encouragement of her husband, she started building her collection.  Catherine was Lauren Rogers’s great-aunt and in 1923 she donated almost 500 rare North American Indian baskets and related artifacts to the new museum.  Currently the museum’s collection includes 796 objects… This is a small sampling of the items on display.  There are a number of impossibly tiny baskets on display as well.

I believe that this colorful woven bag is called a corn husk bag…although it’s so colorful, it would seem counterintuitive to burden it with a load of corn.  Laurie and I love Native American baskets and weavings of all types.  For the most part, older items like this are both utilitarian and artistically pleasing…amazing creations.   

This unusually shaped basket is a ‘Jump Dance Basket”.  The Jump Dance is conducted every 2 years by Native Americans from the Hoopa Tribe from Northern California.  This dance is one of a 3-part ceremony that is designed to bring balance back into the world.  

With each stitch of the basket the weaver breathes life into its creation and makes way for the basket to take its place as a living part of the community.  As an active participant in the ceremony, the basket is responsible for the critical task of removing evil from the world and for putting good back into it…

The museum’s art collection includes 5 different segments or groups.  The smallest of these groupings is its 65 piece collection of European paintings, engravings and sketches on paper.  The European collection dates from the 17th Century and into the 20th Century.  Twenty-four of these works were donated by the Eastman and Rogers families during the museum’s early years.

This painting from 1907 by Dutch artist Bernard de Hoog (1866 – 1943) is titled “Woman and Baby”.  The artist specialized in small paintings focused on life of country people in the Netherlands.  His success was made easier by him being granted a subsidy from the Dutch Queen.  He also worked for some time under one of the greatest Dutch animal painters, Jan van Essen.

I never did learn the title or name of the artist of that large portrait behind this spectacular display of silver.  Harriet Stark Gibbons was a former museum trustee and her husband owned the local newspaper, the “Laurel Leader-Call”.  They had spent years collecting silver objects and in 1972 and1973, they donated their extensive collection to the Lauren Rogers Museum.  

The photo above shows just a portion of the Gibbons Silver Collection which includes 65 major Georgian Silver pieces including tea caddies, tea and coffee pots, baskets for cakes and sweetmeats, and salvers.

FYI…The term “Georgian” simply refers to the period between 1714 and 1830 when four King Georges in a row ruled England.

In the 1920s, W.B. Rogers, Lauren Rogers’ father, donated 142 eighteenth and nineteenth century Japanese woodblock prints.

This 3-panel work is entitled “Returning from an Outing in the Hakone District”.  It was created in 1788 by Katsukawa Shuncho.  Shuncho was active from the 1770s through the 1790s.  These prints are referred to as ukiyo-e…which means “images of the floating world”.  It is a reference to the theater and entertainment districts of urban Japan, especially those in Kyoto and Edo…that latter now known as Tokyo.

While the 3 panel print shown above is very nice, I prefer the depictions of outdoor scenes.  This print is titled “Windy Day at Yokkaichi”.  It is one of 53 themed panels created by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797 – 1858).  The entire set, which is entitled “The 53 Post Stations of the Tokaido” was completed over a four year period, from 1831 to 1834.

This painting is aptly named “The Ferry”.  This oil paint on canvas work was completed ca. 1850 by French painter Constant Troyon (1810 – 1865) He actually began his career as a painter of porcelain and that skill served as his income base as he refined his artistic talents. 

Troyon’s earlier works are considered to be of little note but from 1850 until 1864 his abilities and recognition blossomed.  Paintings featuring animals are among his best works.  He seemed to love cows... “Cattle Drinking” which is owned by the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore Maryland is special.  Troyon’s works are also featured in major art museums in Glasgow and London as well as at the Louvre in France and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  A pair of his paintings of dogs recently sold for over $136,000…

This realistic and detailed painting was completed very recently, in 2018.  Entitled “Homeless”, this oil on linen work was completed by Bo Bartlett (1955 - ).  His goal was to evoke the feeling of someone looking for a place where you can belong, feel welcome and safe.

Bartlett is an American realist painter and film maker.  In addition to the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, his works are owned by at least 10 other major museums in the USA, including the spectacular Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville Arkansas.

Sculptures are fairly difficult to photo graph, especially if they are made from dark materials.  This was the best of the group on display, at least ‘photographically’ in the museum.

“Mother and Child”, a bronze sculpture on a mahogany base was created in 1972 by Elizabeth Catlett (1915 – 2012) Catlett was an American and Mexican sculptor and graphic artist best known for her depictions of the Black-American experience in the 20th century. 

She was the grandchild of former enslaved people.  While earning her Master of Fine Arts Degree at the University of Iowa, renowned artist Grant Wood, a professor at the university at the time, encouraged her to present images drawn from Black culture and experience.  She moved to Mexico and took citizenship there after being made the subject of an investigation by the McCarthy Committee.  She continued her work until she was into her 90s. 

I thought that I’d end this cross sample of the art works on display at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art with this work by Charly Palmer (1960 - ).  Entitled “Leadbelly”, it was completed in 2012.  It is a tribute piece to Huddle William Ledbetter (1888 – 1949).  Known as Lead Belly, Ledbetter was a famous American folk and blues musician.  His music covered everything from gospel to women, liquor, prison life, racism, cowboys, sailors and famous people…such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow and Howard Hughes.  He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

“Leadbelly” is part of a series of works utilizing a stained-glass theme.  To quote, “The thought of fragmented, or perhaps fractured, images goes beyond simply the people, but the idea of controlled information.”  Palmer attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received a degree from the American Academy of Art.  He created the 1996 Olympic Poster and the US Olympic Committee also selected him to paint the US Olympic Poster for the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for taking a tour of the Lauren Rogers Art Museum and Library with us.  To learn more about the library and museum, go to LRMA – Lauren Rogers Museum of Art | Laurel, MS.

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave