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Our history is far too valuable to let it crumble and whither away

Vicksburg is unbelievably blessed and challenged in so many ways when it comes to its history.

While today our local economy flourishes off the tourism industry, driven by our history, that industry itself comes with both a cost and a responsibility.

Recently, a number of historic homes — some that are bed and breakfasts — have been put on the market.

Their current owners have found it tremendously difficult in recent years, particularly in the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic, to turn their beloved ventures into constant moneymakers.

The Balfour House, one of the more iconic and historic homes in Vicksburg, hit the market after out-of-town owners felt they could no longer care for the home.

And this week, the owners of the Cedar Grove Mansion Inn and Restaurant — among the more stately properties in Vicksburg — closed on the sale of the property to someone they hope can properly care for the facility.

There is no doubt the bed and breakfast industry has its challenges, but this year, has put those small profit margins in the best of years under tremendous strain.

With international travel all but cut off due to pandemic restrictions and the overall drop in tourism as a whole, those who invested so much time and money are now wondering if their investments are worth any additional investment.

That said, these homes, these beloved relics of a time and architecture are too important to not just the tourism industry but to the ability to learn and appreciate our own history.

These homes, inns and mansions must be preserved, protected and prosper. If not, they will be lost to development and lost to time.

Far too often in our city’s history, buildings of historic importance have been demolished, cleared and replaced by businesses or other structures that do little to honor the history of the land on which they sit.

We cannot afford any more of those stories to be lost.

That is why we are excited about those who recently purchased Cedar Grove. While they have not said much of their plans, they have a history and a connection to that facility’s past and we expect they have big plans for its future.

It is our hope that those who find it within their heart, soul and pocketbook to buy these properties have the wherewithal to invest in them and ensure their preservation for years and decades to come.

Vicksburg’s history began long before the Siege of Vicksburg and has continued far beyond it. We are a community of more than one story and the buildings that line our streets tell that story.

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