Mound Bayou is raising funds
By Jack Criss, The Bolivar Bullet
The Mississippi Heritage Trust, in partnership with the City of Mound Bayou, is raising funds to restore the Mound Bayou Bank to become a visitor’s center and community archives. Approximately $594,000 in funding has been secured toward the goal of $1,000,000. The bank still stands as a testament to the tenacity and hard work of the early residents of Mound Bayou but excitement is building for what it will become in its future incarnation.
Mound Bayou experienced a level of success in the cotton industry that rivaled and often exceeded other cotton-producing areas in the state, making the town the leading cotton producer in Mississippi at the turn of the century. Because of that success, in 1904, John Frances and Charles Banks founded Mound Bayou Bank with a capital investment of $10,000. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 for its significance to the history of African American industry and commerce, Mound Bayou Bank is the only historic commercial building remaining from the early settlement of Mound Bayou.
Lolly Rash, Executive Director of The Mississippi Heritage Trust, said, “Our mission is to preserve and renew places in Mississippi that are of historical significance. We’ve had a long relationship of working with Mound Bayou and we’re glad to see that continued with this particular project. The city owns the bank building and we were able to secure initial funding from the National Park Service Save America’s Treasures Program as well as the National Cultural Historic Preservation African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund which, combined, totaled $594,000. So, we’ve done well to start and now we’re asking for private donations to keep the project moving forward.”
“I talked to Rash about the bank last year,” said Mound Bayou Mayor, Leighton Aldridge, “because funds were left over from previous projects. The $94,000 part of the funding was the result of a letter I wrote last year to the National Heritage Trust in Washington, D.C. Now, we’re in the process of procuring private donations to match the initial $500,000 funds.”
There is still some debate about what the old bank building will materialize into once that matching occurs.
“There’s talk on the state level of turning into a visitor’s center/museum for Mound Bayou,” said Leighton. “But, I personally would like to see us get the post office placed back in the building. I’ve been talking to postal officials about that possibility because, after the bank had closed, that’s where our post office was housed. That would represent a great deal of progress, in my opinion.”
To make a tax-deductible donation for the restoration of this building that is a major part of the African American experience in the Delta–and America–visithttps://bit.ly/3QYP3Nx or send your check payable to the Mississippi Heritage Trust to P.O. Box 577, Jackson, MS 39205, marked “Mound Bayou Bank.”