State recommends Forks for National Register

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

The state has recommended the Forks of the Road slave market site for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Historic Preservation Professional Review Board met Thursday and voted to recommend the Natchez site, which was once site of one of the largest slave markets in the South.

The next step in the process is for state officials to revise the nomination document and send it to the Department of the Interior for final approval.

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The Department of Archives and History said it will be working with the National Park Service to ensure the application is complete.

&uot;A historic site involves more complex documentation issues than a more obvious historic property such as a building,&uot; said Richard Cauthen of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

The Forks of the Road, one of the South’s largest 19th-century slave markets, sat at what is now the intersection of Liberty Road and St. Catherine Street.

Jim Barnett, director of historic properties for the Department of Archives and History, who is based in Natchez, wrote the nomination for the Forks of the Road.

Cauthen said it is hard to say whether the Department of the Interior &045; which handles the final nomination process &045; will accept the nomination.

&uot;They may determine that it needs more documentation,&uot; Cauthen said.

The state board approved the nomination &uot;because of the obvious historical significance that was very well documented in the nomination itself,&uot; he said.

&uot;It’s one of the most important slave markets in the deep South,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s a very important place associated with a historical phenomenon that was of great consequence to the history of the entire country. Not that the site was unique, but it was one of the most important and one of the most well-documented.&uot;

After several months of delays, the city of Natchez a year ago purchased the land around the site for development of an interpretive center.

Exhibits will include information about the slave trade, including the movement of enslaved people from Virginia and Maryland to the Deep South slave markets in New Orleans and Natchez.