Hang some history in your home
Members and supporters of the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society are hoping everyone makes space on their Christmas trees this year for the society’s new collectible ornament.
Continuing its tradition of keepsake Christmas ornaments featuring area landmarks, LCHGS has announced its 2020 offering — a circular porcelain ornament featuring the Butterfield Mansion on Storm Avenue.
Completed around 1911 by Charles Butterfield, the mansion has passed hands through such owners as Dr. Harry Hannon and David Lovell. The current owners, Jeff and Stacie Cross, began restoration on the home in 2017 and converted it into a special events venue. The ornament utilizes a painting by local artist Derek Covington Smith, his third offering in the series of five — so far — collectible landmark art.
Stacie Cross said she and her husband are delighted the mansion was chosen as the focus of this year’s ornament.
“What an honor! I’m so excited,” she said. “Derek did such a great job with it — to see his perspective is awesome. We’re so happy to be a part of the community ad we hope it will raise a lot of money for the historical society. We’re really, really honored.”
Smith was asked last year to continue the ornament series, something he said he was delighted to do. The decision to feature the landmark mansion for 2020 was not just his or the historical society’s, however.
“What we did this past year is both (society member) Tammie (Brewer) and I polled Facebook, asking people to tell us their favorite locations in Brookhaven,” Smith said. “Butterfield won out on all the polls, so we went with that one. We wanted it to be interactive, and hopefully we’ll get more support and sell more ornaments.”
LCHGS introduced the first in the series of commemorative LCHGS Christmas ornaments in 2016, featuring a photograph of the Warren Avenue Bridge, which was built in 1903 and torn down earlier in 2016.
One hundred of the 3-inch ceramic ornaments were made and hand numbered. Each came with a velvet pouch and ribbon hanger.
“We hope to make this an annual event with a different historical place in Lincoln County on an ornament each year,” Brewer said at the time.
The inaugural ornament sold out in less than two hours.
The Mary Jane Lampton Auditorium was featured on the 2017 ornament, and more ornaments were ordered to meet the demand.
The image was from local artist Dr. Kim Sessums’ original sketch of the building, which was constructed during the years leading up to World War I and was originally part of Whitworth College.
In 2018, the third ornament to be offered featured The Coffee Pot, using a painting from Smith.
The Coffee Pot on South First Street was built in 1931 by James J. Carruth and his wife. The two-story stucco Coffee Pot Inn was Brookhaven’s first drive-in restaurant, according to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and also served as the Carruth family home and a Greyhound bus stop in 1933.
Brewer approached Smith about creating a painting for use in the project.
“It just so happened I already had a painting of the Coffee Pot that would fit in this oval size and it worked out perfect,” he said. “I was more than happy to do that. Anything for this town.”
The ornament sold very well, Brewer said, and got lots of positive feedback from the community.
Last year’s ornament featured The Haven theater, also created from a painting by Smith.
According to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Haven was built before 1925 and was a movie theater first. A photograph in 1939 shows the Haven marquee as a three-sided canopy extending over the sidewalk. The Haven was remodeled after World War II and included a curved glass block half-wall in the ticket booth. The Brookhaven Little Theatre bought the theater in 1983 and produces plays and other events in the building. The Haven is significant for its art deco architecture and for its continuing contribution to the arts in Brookhaven and Lincoln County.
In 2006, the Haven was recognized as a registered Mississippi Landmark.
The goal behind the ornament sale is to help keep local history alive, Brewer said.
“It’s to first raise funds for the society and museum but to also raise awareness of the society and preserve history,” Brewer said.
The museum has a budget of $10,000 per year, a large portion of which goes to insurance on the building and its contents, as well as utilities and maintenance. All money raised or donated is used for the historical society or historical museum projects. The museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit, run strictly by volunteers, operating on membership dues, donations and fundraising.
The ornaments are $25 each and can be purchased at the museum on South Church Street on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The ornaments will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, with no holds, until all 125 are gone. The museum can accept cash, checks or credit cards.
A few of The Haven and Lampton Auditorium ornaments are still available, as well as some of the afghans sold in 2019. The afghan is $50 and features nine images of historic Brookhaven buildings, including the Inez Hotel, train depot and McGrath building.
“It raised a lot of money for us,” Brewer said. “We’re supplementing that with the ornament, which will hopefully help us meet our budget for this year. With COVID, everything has been kind of topsy-turvy. We haven’t been able to have any meetings other than one this year. We had to close the museum for a while, so we weren’t able to do any fundraising.”
“When they’re gone, they’ll be gone,” Brewer said of the 2020 ornament. “But if we get an overwhelming response, we might reorder, as well.”
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