Published 12:00 am Friday, January 24, 2003

to speak Tuesday

By DON McCRAINE The Natchez Democrat

WOODVILLE &045; Mississippi author Mary Carol Miller sees economic development as the number one enemy of antebellum architecture and historical landmarks in the Magnolia State.

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&uot;The biggest threat is progress. Even in places like Natchez, where there is a very keen awareness of the need for historical preservation, there is still that drive for development,&uot; said Miller, who will be featured at the Wilkinson County Museum Program series on Tuesday.

Since 1996, the Greenwood native and Tupelo resident has documented Mississippi’s historical sites in three photographic volumes, including &uot;Lost Mansions of Mississippi, Lost Landmarks of Mississippi and Written in the Bricks:

A Visual and Historic Tour of Fifteen Mississippi Hometowns.&uot;

&uot;Half of the homes in Lost Mansions were taken out by economic development and population growth, as opposed to fire or weather damage,&uot; said Miller, who touts public awareness as a key factor in preservation efforts.

&uot;Mississippi has the most fascinating history in the country, but it’s poorly taught in our schools.

We need to take our children out to see these places,&uot; said Miller, adding that historical preservation should be a source of pride for all Mississippians.

&uot;These structures are works of art.

They may have been designed by white people and built with slave labor &045; which was evil &045; but they are nothing short of masterpieces, still standing 200 years later,&uot; said Miller.

A former physician who gave up a 10-year family practice to care for her children, Miller is collaborating with photographer Mary Rose Carter for her latest compilation, which will include several Wilkinson County homes.

But work on the new book has been delayed by bad weather.

&uot;We started working last fall and ran into two hurricanes and some of the foggiest conditions I’ve ever seen in Mississippi.

We just decided to wait until winter is over,&uot; she said.

Tuesday’s event will be held in the parish hall of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Woodville, where Miller will autograph copies of her books at a wine and cheese reception beginning at 6 p.m. A buffet dinner will be served at 7 p.m., and Miller will present a slide show and lecture at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the museum or by calling 888-4808 or 888-4293.

All proceeds will benefit the Wilkinson County Museum.