By Sue Moore
“You can’t hide 400,000 square feet,” say advertisements for Hidden Vicksburg Secrets of the Past, to be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct 7. That’s because The Mill at 300 West Highway Street is going to be open for public tours for the first time in several decades.
Hidden Vicksburg was sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority in its first run last year. It has expanded to include The Mill property which is only two blocks from S. Main Street. Two other new but very old buildings will be open for the first time as part of Hidden Vicksburg at 101 and 103 East Prairie Street.
The idea of peeking inside some of these old buildings is to show what condition they are in on the second floors and open them to the curious with guided tours offered by community volunteers and the business owners and representatives. The Vicksburg Historical Society is helping by providing the history of each building for tour guests.
The Mill has been featured in several recent issues of the South County News. It is slated to become a brewery, craft food and beverage place, a museum, a beer production facility and an outdoor beer garden. It has been gutted of the paper machinery and cleaned up considerably by workers from Frederick Construction. It is beginning to show its potential for the big projects it has in store for the community.
The East Prairie Street properties on the tour have over 100 years of history, most recently Unique Furnishings before that it was Boers Dress Shop and next door, the Doris Lee Sweet Shop. The upstairs of 101 E. Prairie has been gutted and taken down to the studs but still houses some debris from previous owners.
The 103 E. Prairie building has livable apartments upstairs. Downstairs, it is being remodeled to house the Cultural Arts Center. The owner of the two buildings has been given a façade grant and loan from the DDA to fix up the exterior. The plan is to have that accomplished this fall.
Other properties on the tour include buildings at 101, 107, 118, 120, 123, 200, 202 S. Main Street and the Old El at 301 S. Kalamazoo. With this many properties to tour, it could make a nice day trip according to Fawn Callen, the event chairperson.
Tickets are on sale at $10 each with children under five free, at the Vicksburg Art Center, 101 E. Prairie and vicksburgdda.com/hidden-vicksburg. They will be available the day of the event at the Community Center at 101 S. Main Street.