Restoration gives a glimpse at history

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 10, 2003

Next time you find yourself on State Street, take a look at the amazing project under way at the William Johnson House.

After many years of planning and working toward funding, the National Park Service has begun the task of shoring up the house that neighbors the historic building.

Right now, workers with Keystone Restoration are removing the walls to that building, exposing the interior, just as William Johnson’s diary exposes for us the reality of everyday life in Natchez in the 19th century.

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And as workers physically peel back the layers of time, we might get an even greater insight into the era in which Johnson lived.

The William Johnson House, named for the free black man who was a barber by day but kept an extensive diary in his free time, is a restoration project park service officials have wanted to undertake for some time.

Restoring the neighboring building is essential because of their proximity, and that extra structure will also allow more space for a visitor’s center and park service office.

For the Johnson House itself, the park service is preparing exhibits about Johnson, his family life and the Natchez about which he writes.

The Johnson House restoration is important for so many reasons: its place in history, his representation of Natchez, and the balance his story begins to give to the whole story of our city.

We still need more representations of our community’s history &045; including the Forks of the Road slave market site &045; but we’re glad to see this project on the road to completion.