Forks of Road exhibits to be erected this fall

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 15, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; A temporary exhibit to mark the site of one of the South’s largest 19th century slave markets should be installed no later than October, project consultant Cavitt Taft of Jackson said Wednesday.

Taft made his comments during a meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission. That body gave its approval to the exhibit, provided an ad hoc committee reviews text for the exhibit before it is fabricated.

Technically, the commission’s approval wasn’t required, but a review was given to the commission as a courtesy, City Planner Bob Jackson said. And the meeting gave Taft an opportunity to show the plans he has for the exhibit.

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Taft said the ad hoc committee that has been formed to review the exhibit’s text &045;&045; which is still in rough draft form &045;&045; should finish its review by the end of the month. With two months needed to fabricate the metal-and-formica exhibits, they should be installed in late September or October, Taft said.

The city bought the site in January 2003 after delays in negotiations with property owners. In summer 2003, the city received $130,000 from the state Department of Archives and History as reimbursement for purchasing the property and to place signs there.

Eventually, backers hope to transfer the property to the National Park Service to be maintained and for more permanent markers to be placed there. &uot;This (current project) may be just the beginning for the Forks of the Road&uot; site, Taft said.

In addition to the exhibits, which will detail the history of slavery and of the site, the site will feature a sculpture at ground level, one that will feature chains and shackles set into the concrete itself.

There will be no exhibit to interpret the sculpture and no music to set the tone, Taft said, adding that &uot;it will be up (to the visitor) to give it his own interpretation.&uot;